How to make the most of your international internship
You can combine your internship abroad with your exchange semester. This means that you can do your internship either straight after or before your planned exchange semester. However not during your exchange. It is possible to get the scholarship for both. If you are getting the Erasmus+ scholarship for your internship, the combination of your internship and exchange can have the maximum length of 12 months (including both exchange and internship). This is calculated for the different degree levels separately. Please note that you can only get the internship scholarship once during your studies at Aalto University, not once per each degree level.
- you will gain work experience from your field of expertise and you will improve your language skills. All Aalto university graduates are these days entering a working life which is more or less multicultural. Employers appreciate international working experienced gained during studies. During international internships you can take the theory of what you have learned into practice and makes it easier to get into working life later on. You will also gain the ability to work in an international working environment as well as improve your language skills. During your internship you can also learn other languages than English and improve your area of expertise related vocabulary.
- During the internship you will gain personal experience on other countries’ working cultures. The understanding of other market areas’ business and negotiation customs can be a huge benefit when applying for a job. Also other global competence skills will improve during the internship abroad.
- Your will become mentally tougher. Living and working in another country requires the ability to adapt to new situations and good problem-solving skills. When you realise that you are doing well also outside your home country, your self-confidence will improve.
- Your social skills will get better, and you will get to build new networks. Being abroad means that you will meet people from various cultural backgrounds. Employers will appreciate it when job applicants can demonstrate their experience in working in a multicultural environment. You will also create valuable contacts which can be useful later in the future.
Stages of an internship
Make sure you take full advantage of the learning experience the internship abroad provides. When you are aware of your strengths, interests and array of possibilities, you master the most important basic requirements for a successful career.
To get the full advantage of your internship, it is wort while to prepare properly for it. Consider the following topics before your first day:
- Why is this internship important for me and for my goals?
- What are my goals for this internship? What are my current skills and what would I like to become better at?
- What are my core competences? What can I offer to my employer vs. what they are expecting from me?
- How can I make use of what I learned during my internship in the future?
If you have some questions concerning your tasks and responsibilities during the internship, your employer’s expectations towards your work and the organization's rules, make a list of your questions for the first day of the internship.
The internship is a possibility to expand your expertise in various topics. For instance:
- you can learn about yourself, for instance what kind of tasks are suitable for you
- you can learn to work in different situations
- you can find out about the skills that are needed
- you can learn to think about your work effort in connection to organisation.
Below you will find some skills and know-how the trainees abroad have listed in connection that what they learned. Consider if any of these would be something you would like to develop during your internship. During your internship you will also get plenty of tacit knowledge in addition to the more obvious skills.
- Living in a multicultural environment.
- Communication and co-operation skills.
- Easily understanding the full picture of bigger concepts.
- Independently planning your own workload.
- Being creative with solving unexpected issues.
- Working in a work community, taking new approaches.
- Being a good presenter in meetings, negotiation tactics.
- Project coordination skills.
- Finding information.
- Writing reports, doing research and memos.
- Increasing your theoretical know-how.
Harjoittelujakson hyötyjä ovat usein itsetuntemuksen ja luottamuksen kehittyminen sekä ammatillisen itsevarmuuden kasvaminen. Tämä voi rakentua myös sen kautta mitä et ainakaan halua tehdä, tai vahvistaa aiempaa näkemystäsi siitä mitä haluat jatkossa urallasi tehdä.
The benefits of an internship are developing your self-awareness and self-confidence as well as becoming more confident in your professional skills.
Once the internship is over it is good to come back to the goals you set for yourself in the beginning. What did you learn? Did the internship get you closer to your future plans and did it help you with your studies?
Based on your experience, think about which topics and tasks were interesting and which were not. Did the experience give you more direction for the future? Do you now know what you don’t want? Do you have the possibility to get another position through your internship or did you discover new networks?
You are entitled to get an employment certificate after the internship so remember to ask for one. It is good to ask for feedback from your internship supervisor or employer. You can also ask for a reference for the future.
Think about your main duties and the tasks you were responsible for. Add the work experience to your CV and think about how to describe your tasks in the future applications. Which tasks should I highlight, what was most beneficial?