This summer, I did a two-month Public Affairs internship at Grayling, a Public Relations firm in Warsaw, Poland! As my first ‘real’ internship/job (in the past I’ve work in retail, as an English instructor in Buenos Aires, and as a camp counselor), it a great experience! Interning abroad definitely has it’s benefits; working in a foreign business environment and living abroad – things that look great for employers. Such an experiences shows employers that you are willing to take on a challenge, adaptable, and self-sustainable. But besides the ‘looks-good-on-your-resume’ aspect, interning abroad takes you out of your comfort zone and great for personal growth!
Why did I intern in Poland? : During my childhood, I traveled to Poland during the summers to visit my family. I haven’t been there the past two summers and I really wanted to visit them before I graduated college, because who knows what I’ll be doing after I graduate *nervous laughter*. On the other hand, getting a job/internship during the summer after your junior year is almost imperative so that it’s easier to get a job after you graduate. So my solution? To get an internship in Poland so that I can visit family and gain work experience.
How did I find my internship? : Finding an internship abroad can be hard, especially in a less traveled country like Poland. As a result, I opted out of looking for an internship for Poland online (…mainly because there are none). Instead, I networked to find internship opportunities. I reached out to the associate dean of my honors college, who put me in contact with his former student from Poland who now works in Warsaw. I contacted the former student, and while there were no internship opportunities at his workplace, he gave me a list of possible companies and think tanks I could reach out to. I decided to give Grayling a try, mainly because I wanted work experience in a company and in public affairs, a sector where I would learn about different industries. From there, he helped me get in contact with Grayling. I sent in my resume and had an interview over Skype while still in Miami and viola, I earned myself an internship.
What did I do? : Fortunately, I was given actual assignments during the internship and had the opportunity to work with different departments. The main job I had was sending daily media updates to one of our clients, General Electric, by 10:30am everyday. GE owns part of a Polish bank, Bank BPH, and has a lot of business going on in Poland and therefor, is invested in its economic stance. So every morning I would check media sources to see if any new information was published related to Bank BPH and a current legislation that deals with foreign currency (loans conversion act); if there was anything new, I would summarize the article, highlighting key information. Beyond that, I would help anyone else out with tasks that included: taking part in brainstorm sessions, correcting texts, translating texts from Polish to English (and vice-versa), following-up with press releases, contacting media, researching, and writing up reports for clients.
Overall…. My experience was challenging but rewarding. Challenging because most of the material I had to work with was in Polish… not the easiest language to read. Not only that, but I needed to understand financial and banking terms in Polish, which was 2X a hard considering I don’t even know financial terminology in English, being an international relations major. Also, coming in, I needed to learn about Poland’s legislative system and economic issues – issues I lacked zero knowledge about. But how I benefitted from the experience outweighed these challenges. Foremost, I got to improve my Polish and gain a better comprehension of current politics of Poland. I met great people who were eager to help me whenever I have troubles. I was able to experience a work culture different from that in the US. Most of all, this experience definitely is an eye-catcher for future employees, and probably helped me secure my internship for the fall semester.
So my advice to you? Go out, research, ask around, and explore the possibility of an internship abroad – better to try than not try at all!