I was debating back and forth a lot whether or not I wanted to do an internship abroad. There were a few personal factors involved, of course, but so far in my experience I have quite a few reasons why this was a good idea.
Here are a few of them:
1. Step out of your comfort zone
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking you’re doing enough comfort zone pushing just deciding to go abroad. And for some, that may be enough! But I’d definitely recommend taking the extra leap and going for the internship. It’s much less pressure than actually working abroad, and you make a lot of good connections this way that may actually lead to you getting consistent employment abroad.
A few weekends ago, I was home alone while everyone else was out traveling, so I went out by myself, something I wouldn’t do ordinarily. But I figure if I can work at an internship and be fine, why can’t I go out by myself and have a good time? I’ve met a lot of people this way and definitely had a lot of fun.
|Decorated the shop window for Halloween!|
2. Learn to communicate across cultures
I’m a language and culture studies major, so this might sound a little self-evident, but I really think cross-cultural communication is important. The world becomes more open to you when you understand how other people behave.
As someone with a lot of social anxiety, new social situations are at first quite daunting to me. Interning abroad is helping me overcome that in some small ways, primarily reminding me that not everyone thinks the same way. Just because you aren’t receiving constant attention at work doesn’t mean you’re not doing a good job or that you’re in trouble! In fact, being left to do things independently often means that you have earned a certain degree of trust.
It’s happened a few times where I’m just left to write up my task and I have to find other ways to keep myself busy because I’ve been too timid to ask for another thing to do, not wanting to interrupt another conversation or another task. Taking initiative is very important! It gets easier the more you do it, I promise.
|Went to the British Council for a back-to-school event; we sell their textbooks.|
3. Stand out to potential future employers
Here’s a no-brainer, right? They say having some work experience abroad will look good on a resume. Everyone has been telling me this left and right, so I suppose it merits a spot. I think it’s generally good advice. But let me share with you one other thing:
You are more than your resume.
One more time?
You are more than your resume.
Seriously. It took me so long to get out of the thinking that everything I have to do in college is for Hypothetically Ideal Future Me, the one who has her life together and an apartment and a steady job and everything. Coming abroad is what shook me out of it, actually. What about Present Me? While, sure, I want to make good choices that will positively impact my future, I don’t want to work myself into the ground on the way there. I want to enjoy my time here. So I looked at all my options and made sure I was going to actually want to do the work I was signing up for.
Passion stands out to employers just as much as experience does. And while I’d rather have the former than the latter if it came down to choosing, I’m glad I have both.
Michelle Robins is a Fall 2015 MOJO Blogger in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a junior at Augsburg College.
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