When/what/where was your internship? How was it?
I worked for a start-up company in Dublin, Ireland. Because the company I worked for was still in the beginning stages, I was given a lot of responsibility, which was an aspect of the internship that I liked. The people were very friendly, and willing to give me advice and help me with anything I needed as I got used to living in a new environment. Overall, it was a great internship!
What did you gain while living in a new environment?
I describe the time abroad as “the freest I’ve ever been in my life.” I had the opportunity to travel often, and I saw many different landscapes, ate new foods, and experienced a variety of cultures. The coolest thing about being abroad was making last-minute plans to do and see new things. I loved it! It was also invigorating to meet new people from new places almost every day, and I enjoyed getting to know them and learning about their cultures.
How did your international internship help you once you returned?
Going abroad was a huge growing experience. Between navigating foreign airports, learning the streets of a metropolitan area, and figuring out which stamps to use to send postcards home to friends and family members, I became much more self-reliant and confident in my ability to navigate a new city. In a broader sense, the experience of living abroad and experiencing a different culture gave me a more global perspective on American policies and social norms.
What do you do now, and how do you think your experience helped you reach this point?
I am currently a senior at Penn State University, and am applying for full-time positions. As I have gone through the interview process, I have noticed that employers are very interested to see that I took the initiative to work for a company abroad. The global perspective I gained from being abroad has been an asset in critical thinking exercises in several classes I have taken since arriving back in the US.
What would you say to someone thinking about working abroad? What advice would you give?
Working abroad is an amazing experience. It’s really cool to not only immerse yourself in the social culture of another country, but also in the vocational culture. The concept of work-life balance is so much different in Europe than it is in the United States, and being able to witness that was an eye-opening experience for me.
My advice to those who are planning to do an internship abroad is this: make sure you talk to your employer about the possibility of scheduling a few long weekends and days off to travel and to explore the city you are based in. I was able to do this, and it definitely enhanced my experience abroad.