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From an internship abroad to an internship from the living room

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Guest post By Bowie Hagen | March 20th 2021
Reading Time: 4 minutes

It was mid-February 2020 and I had it all planned out. My internship abroad had been fixed and the only thing left to do was finding a good place to stay. Since I would undergo a heavy operation that same week I decided to postpone my room-searching to after I recovered and could start going to classes again. Little did I know at that moment that I wouldn’t go to school anymore until at least September.

 

When COVID-19 entered Europe almost all countries went into immediate lockdown. I first thought this would take a week or two but, I quickly realised we were in it for the long haul. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was also stressed that I suddenly had to find a new internship since I wasn’t allowed to cross the border anymore. You would guess finding an internship suiting Business would be easy to find but, due to the virus, most companies removed their internship positions completely, leaving me and a lot of my classmates stranded. With only a month left before my (mandatory) internship started my anxiety grew each day I hadn’t found a spot.

 

Luckily there was a light at the end of the tunnel. A few days before I had to start the internship, I got a call back from an interview that I had scribbled off my list since it had been over two weeks. Alas, they offered me a position until August with decent pay, and a catch: remote work. At the beginning, I was very wary about working remotely since I believe you can’t experience the whole company from your computer screen but unfortunately, there was no other option. 

 

My task at the company was easy, they just opened their third global office in Amsterdam and they wanted me to search the Dutch market looking for potential partners and clients. The job management came as quite a shock to me since this meant I was the only Dutch employee in the company and basically in charge of client relationships. Whereas some would be scared by this realisation, I was ecstatic since I was looking for a challenging experience after already completing eight internships in the past. So I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and went into it with full power.

 

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On my first day in May, I immediately had to conquer one of my biggest shortcomings: communication. I like to believe I am a social person and that I am not afraid of a good talk, but one thing scares me and that is online communication. For some reason calling or emailing somebody just isn’t my forte and I used to feel quite uncomfortable messaging people in general. The good thing is that this all changed during my internship. Since the start of my internship, I have contacted over 300 people through email, LinkedIn and phone calls. Since I was the main source of communication I couldn’t ask anybody else about how they would handle the situation, so you could say I was quite literally ‘thrown in the deep’. But, I have to say that my fear of communication has all but completely disappeared in the meantime and I like to think this was one of the good things to come out of the COVID situation. It even gave me the courage to finally start up the idea of a student business club I was toying with. 

All by all, I had a good time at my internship. I overcame flaws I was struggling with and worked with a nice team. Whilst it has been challenging at times, I am very much looking forward to being able to travel again and perhaps even work abroad one day with my remote internship experience.

 

For all students going into a remote internship I give the following advice: give 100% of your effort. I know sometimes it can get a bit less exciting but don’t go moping around. Since remote working is also not the easiest for supervisors don’t go waiting around only for the orders. When you find the time, do something extra to help them and show you are independent. At least at my workplace, they really appreciated the gesture and it made the role more adventurous and educational for me. 

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