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Behind the Scenes
Our interns from the PR Team have all collaborated for this guest post, which provides a handy summary of their shared experience at InterNations.
A Bit about Us: Who We Are and What Brought Us Here
The Public Relations (PR) Team has four interns: Amelia, Siham, and Lewis, who are from the UK, as well as Natalia, who’s from Spain. We are all in the third year of our undergraduate degrees. Amelia and Siham are both at the University of Bath, with Amelia studying politics and international relations and Siham pursuing an international development degree with economics. Natalia, who is at Bournemouth University, studies media production, and Lewis has opted for medieval and modern German at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.
Since Natalia has been an expat in the UK for the past two years, this internship in Germany is not her first time living abroad. Likewise, prior to starting university, Amelia spent six months in Australia, living in Melbourne for five and spending her final month travelling along the East Coast. After that, she explored Southeast Asia for another two and a half months, visiting Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
“Due to my love of travel, one reason I applied for the internship was the opportunity to discover a new city, whilst simultaneously gaining experience in corporate communications”, Amelia explains. For Lewis and Siham, on the other hand, it’s their first experience living abroad. “I applied because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and learn something new”, shares Siham.
Like Siham and Amelia, Natalia found her internship on her university’s career hub and decided to apply as “the job seemed to offer a lot of challenges for me, so I could grow personally and professionally”. And Lewis states, “I wanted to see what doing public relations was like, and I think the skillset that comes with the internship is useful to learn” — something we can all agree on.
The application process was quite straightforward. After doing some research on the company culture and working in PR, we first sent in our CVs and personal statements. The next stage was to complete a short English test by answering a competency-based question, then we each wrote a longer press release within a four-hour time limit. The final part, and maybe the most nerve-racking, was a one-on-one Skype interview with Caroline, the Team Lead Public Relations, about our interest in PR.
A Day in the Life of a PR Intern at InterNations
Throughout the year, the PR team, alongside several other teams in the company, plays a major role in preparing our two biggest press campaigns: the Expat Insider survey — one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on life abroad — and the Expat City Ranking. As interns, we get a wide scope of responsibility during these periods, from researching media contacts to building relationships with them, for example, by sending them our press materials or by answering their press requests.
While we were working on these projects, our confidence in the use of Excel has grown. We’ve also gained experience in interpreting survey data and transforming them into digestible press releases. Aside from our project-based work, our day-to-day tasks include keeping track of InterNations’ news coverage, updating our internal wiki with company news, and monitoring the press account, the PR Team’s joint email account.
This internship has allowed us to develop both our written and verbal communication skills, mostly when contacting journalists and answering press requests. In this role, we have been quite lucky to be able to learn to use PR specific tools, such as Cision, a program used to contact journalists from our database, while gaining a deeper understanding of the PR realm.
An Array of Projects within the Company
It is not just PR that we’ve learned about during our internship. Other external projects have provided us with the opportunity to apply our creative flare, such as the Interns’ Project and our Creativity Newsletter, a compilation of clever advertising and marketing campaigns put together by the Content & Communications Department. Some of us — Siham and Amelia — have also had the opportunity to hold their own workshop for the other members of the Content & Communications Department. We chose to do an interactive presentation on the effects of negative press and how a company can reduce this risk.
Additionally, the Interns’ Project is an opportunity for all the interns across different departments to meet and work together. Recently, we finished working on the “InterNations Charitable Christmas”, for which we organized a cake sale to raise money for two charities. One of them was the Ronald McDonald Haus in Munich, which provides a temporary home for families with young children who are in and out of hospital for a variety of reasons.
Once we’d raised the money, we had the opportunity to visit the house and learn more about the work the volunteers carry out there. Their everyday tasks include, for instance, finding funding for food and other necessary products for the families who are temporarily living in the house, and providing moral support through tough times. This was an eye-opening and rewarding experience!
Also, every month we hold the Interns’ Department Exchange, where interns from different teams explain what a day in their job is usually like. We also have the chance to learn about other departments by applying to the regular Department Exchange sessions, which are more flexible and spontaneous.
“I chose the Learning & Development Team for the Department Exchange. They gave me an in-depth explanation of a day in their job and more details about the development projects they are currently working on. It really helped me see our company from a different angle”, Natalia says. Amelia also took part: “As for me, I visited the Corporate Partnerships Department, which provided me with an insight of how InterNations builds and maintains relationships with our global and local advertising partners”.
Juggling these multiple responsibilities has allowed us to strengthen our teamwork and time-management abilities through distributing and organizing our various tasks within our tight-knit team.
The Best Things about Office Life
The company culture is among our favorite aspects of the internship, due to the importance placed upon having different cultures and nationalities within the company to make it more diverse and international. “As cliché as it sounds, my favorite part of the internship is the people I get to work with — everyone is warm and friendly, and there is a very supportive atmosphere,” Lewis thinks. Since he studies German, he personally “also likes the various opportunities to do translations for our German press releases”.
Overall, we all really value the way that Team Lead Caro pushes us to rapidly improve through clear and kind guidance. “The colleagues are also very friendly, and my supervisor guided me very well during the first few days, although her expectations were quite high!” explains Natalia. “This is a very nice internship because you’ll gain some actual experience, where your work makes a real impact on the world.”
Another highlight is definitely the team-bonding activities on offer. There are always opportunities to catch up with “teamies” in other departments who we don’t get the chance to work with directly. Some examples include the Christmas party, where we shared Secret Santa gifts, and the team breakfasts on Monday mornings, which we always attend for a relaxing start into the week. Within the Content & Communications Department, we organized a great outing to Air Hop, a local trampoline park, and we also had a huge Thanksgiving lunch, where everyone brought in their very delicious home-cooked dishes.
Life beyond the Office
With summer weekends spent in the Englischer Garten or relaxing in one of the many beer gardens, and with Oktoberfest in autumn and the many Christmas markets in winter, life in Munich has been full of various things to see and do. Outside the city, with the mountains being just a step away, we have also had the chance to spend our weekends hiring boats and swimming in the lakes, climbing, hiking, and walking in the mountains, and skiing in the winter months. Amelia thinks: “It is really amazing how quickly you can escape the city and visit such beautiful places!”
However, as much as we enjoy living and working in Munich, it is a very expensive city to live in! One thing that we can all agree we’d change about our internship are the living expenses.
Why We’d Recommend This Internship
On a whole, we would all recommend the internship, the high cost of living in Munich notwithstanding — you get to learn a lot of useful skills thanks to the wide variety of tasks you do throughout the placement. While some projects can eventually get repetitive towards the end, the opportunity to consistently practice and improve what you’ve learned is really valuable.
In any case, there’s always a new project to dive into just on the horizon. In short, Natalia believes that “the internship offers a complete hands-on experience in the world of public relations. This company is rather small — but not too small! — and a friendly place to start off as an intern!”
What the Future Holds for Us
While our immediate plans all include completing our final year at our respective universities, our future plans are much broader. With Lewis moving to Berlin to pursue an additional German-speaking internship, he states, “I definitely want to travel abroad more and could see myself doing another year or so in a German-speaking country, just for the challenge and to keep up my language skills.” Having adjusted to the cold and wet climate in both the UK and now Germany, Natalia thinks that although she may consider working in the UK for a few years after graduating, she will “then move to another country with warmer weather!”
After gaining her master’s degree, Siham would like to pursue a career in policy-making for an international development consultancy: “Although I want to work for the UK government, I’d love to have the opportunity to travel the world as much as I can.” Like the other interns, Amelia also has plans to discover new places, with the goal of travelling to South America and to New Zealand after university. “However, once I have completed one more year of travelling, I would like to follow a career in political affairs.”
Image credit: InterNations / iStockphoto / private
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