This time last year, I was moving to France – nervous but excited to be starting my year abroad. As part of my year abroad, I would be working for 6 months as an intern in a translation company, working as an assistant in the industry team. There, I managed certain client requests, and helped my team with administrative tasks and translations.
Arriving in France, and having to use French on a daily basis to arrange accommodation and my bank account meant that the experience suddenly became very real. On my first day as an intern, I was incredibly worried about getting things wrong – mainly because I’d never actually had a proper full-time job. My first proper experience of the working world was this internship – and it seemed all the more scary because was all in French!
Even though I made a few mistakes, I felt that the people in my team supported and helped me learn
Luckily, the company that I worked for was incredibly welcoming. Right from the offset, I felt supported and valued – and I felt the company made the effort to help me to learn and improve. Even though I made a few mistakes, I felt that the people in my team supported and helped me learn. Throughout my time there, my colleagues encouraged me to undertake bigger and bolder tasks – and I represented the company for events and tasks. Completing these important tasks provided me with a massive sense of achievement – and I felt proud of myself for being able to do it all in French too.
As an intern abroad, I learnt more than I could have possibly imagined about how a business works – and about office life in France. By carrying out a combination of administrative tasks, alongside reporting, translation, and client management – I have strengthened my understanding of the translation market, and the business world. I also learnt about various cultural aspects of French working life – such as the later working hours, long lunches, and the culture for drinking espresso or black coffee in France.
working in a different cultural environment improves your adaptability and transferable skills
The best part about carrying out an internship abroad is that you can gain all that you would gain through an internship at home – the commercial skills, the knowledge of the inner workings of a business – whilst developing unparalleled language and cultural skills. Working in a French-speaking only environment, though scary at first, meant that I was fully immersed in the French business and technical language – and will help me to progress my future career, especially if I decide to work in France in the future.
I would encourage anyone who is thinking about carrying out an internship – particularly as part of a year abroad – to apply! As with any internship, they can be competitive – and I applied to a number of companies before I was successful in finding one.
I’d advise anyone who is thinking of applying abroad, even if the experience would not necessarily be in a foreign language, to apply for an international internship if they get the chance. The experience of working in a different cultural environment improves your adaptability and transferable skills – and helps you to immerse yourself in that culture in a unique way. Student internships abroad are an exceptional opportunity to experience working life in foreign countries – an opportunity that might not be available to you later in your career path – and so I would encourage anyone thinking about one to take the plunge – as I definitely found it an invaluable experience.