In this guest post, our Corporate Communications Intern Patricia looks back at the past six months at InterNations, sharing what she learned during her internship abroad.
As a business student at the Swiss German University in Jakarta, Indonesia, I traveled far from home. There were two reasons why I came to Germany: to attend part of my double-degree program at the Fachhochschule Südwestfalen in Soest and to do a six-month internship abroad.
Taking the Initiative: Applying at InterNations
“An early bird is never late” is a quote that has always inspired me. My internship wasn’t supposed to begin before March 2022. Nevertheless, I started looking and applying for positions in late July 2021.
As I was scrolling through the job platforms my university had recommended, I came across an interesting vacancy — Public Relations Intern at a company called InterNations. It had a detailed job description with requirements that I thought really fit me, such as being an international university student with fluent English skills. I saw it as an opportunity, and so I sent my CV right away.
The application process went really smoothly from the very beginning. At the end, I felt confident about my choice. InterNations had left me with a very good impression, especially during the job interview. The interview had convinced me even more that this was where I would like to be working. Stephanie, the Corporate Communications Team Lead at the time, and Kalena, the Junior Corporate Communications Manager, had greeted me warmly. They seemed happy to have me onboard as a future colleague.
The following day, the HR Team informed me that I got the position.
A Big Step: Moving from Indonesia to Germany
I first stepped foot in the country in February 2022. As I grew up on the tropical island of Kalimantan (Borneo), winter is definitely my least favorite season! However, since I had always dreamed of living abroad, I was still excited.
I mostly spent my first month abroad on my studies for my degree program. But I also got to know more about life in Germany. For example, I noticed how much German people appreciated it when I tried talking to them in German, instead of falling back on English.
First Impressions: Starting My Internship
Ever since the pandemic began, I’ve been a fully remote university student. After two years, I’ve become accustomed to doing a lot of things online. So, there were no surprises for me when I began a fully remote internship.
The first two weeks consisted mainly of introductions to everything I needed to know while working at InterNations. My new colleagues – both from Corporate Communications and from other teams – gave me a warm welcome. They explained important topics, such as our company culture, product, and brand and style guide, with great patience and professionalism.
Maximum Freedom and Productivity: Remote Work
Though remote work wasn’t anything new for me, I found it impressive how well organized the team members at InterNations are. I think this is very important to maintain productivity in an online work environment. Personally, I had a lot of freedom and often worked quite independently without much supervision. But I always knew what my tasks were.
I actively managed internal communications and monitored media coverage while also helping deal with press requests. My colleagues and I updated each other regularly every day. Occasionally, I even surprised myself by how much I could get done just by sitting at my laptop all day.
Leaving My Comfort Zone: What I Learned as an Intern
I have learned a lot throughout my internship, especially improving my communication skills, both in written and in spoken English. I am not a native English speaker, nor do I major in communications. Moreover, I had never handled any PR-related tasks – such as writing and sending press releases – before.
But I really felt like I belonged to this team from the very beginning of my internship. The rest of the team always supported me by guiding me and giving me feedback, while also acknowledging my contributions. I think this is an incredibly positive company culture. I also like the general communication style at InterNations. It’s both professional and friendly.
During my internship, I had many different tasks to work on: preparing content for our internal communications in the company chat, writing press releases, reaching out to journalists, and handling incoming inquiries from the press. I even got to give a short presentation in front of the entire team at a monthly company meeting!
Actually, there were times when I felt a bit overwhelmed, especially at first. But in retrospect, I’m glad that the team assigned all these tasks to me. Giving me important responsibilities meant that they fully trusted in my abilities. This has made me feel confident about my work.
My Personal Highlight: Working on a Major Press Campaign
One of my biggest highlights was preparing for the release of the Expat Insider 2022 survey. Expat Insider is an annual survey by InterNations. The team collects data related to expat life worldwide and publishes the results in the form of a country ranking. The Corporate Communications Team prepares most of the content for the media (e.g., writing press information, updating the press page, answering emails from journalists).
Overall, I learned that project management skills are crucial to successfully deal with a major project like this. Even though we were a small team, we managed to get a lot of work done and achieve our goals. Several well-known international publications, for example, Forbes and Yahoo, featured the Expat Insider ranking. It makes me proud to know that my hard work contributed to this result.
Team Bonding Online and in Person: What Makes This Internship Memorable
Last but not least, I did get the opportunity to meet most of my colleagues face-to-face. Together, we went to Austria on a three-day company retreat. It was exhilarating to connect with new people and to meet up with colleagues I’d only talked to online. During our various team-bonding activities, I never felt left out of a conversation or lonely in a crowded room.
All in all, I’m very happy to have chosen InterNations for my internship and to have met such wonderful people. My colleagues played a huge role in improving my language and communication skills and in helping me build confidence. It has certainly been an experience I’ll fondly remember.
Image credit: InterNations, iStockphoto, Pexels, private (Patricia Lim)