The internship defined my career path, Hannah from Germany


A story from Hannah,

Country of origine: Germany

Country of destination: Ireland

When I was sending my application form, I wasn’t very sure if I really want to participate in a mobility project, to be honest. I just got my Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication and felt ready to start real work life. I already had gained international experiences in Brazil and Portugal, as I lived in both countries for more than 6 months. So why should I go again somewhere new?

First of all, I felt that I had to improve my English language skills, which I thought would be essential for any job. Eventually I felt encouraged by both, my sending institution, which gave me the right balance between guidance in the application process and freedom to find my own way; and my host company, which made me curious in several skype interviews about its business and its team. So I decided to leave Berlin and started my internship with ESPA in Belfast.

Having it completed, I now can say that the mobility programme has exceeded all of my expectations. During my internship I learned things that my studies could have never taught me.

ESPA facilitates work placements for international students in the UK. I was involved in all different aspects of the business, from realising skype interviews with future candidates and creating information materials, to carrying out HR duties within the team. Being an intern gave me the perfect scope to experiment with work life – on one hand, my host company gave me freedom to realise my own ideas and trusted in my capabilities; at the same time the “internship status” protected me from being too worried about making big mistakes.

Apart from a considerable improvement of my English language skills (I’m nearly afraid of forgetting my German), I gained a lot of self-confidence. I learned that my ideas are appreciated and that I’m able to undertake tasks that I’ve never undertaken before. The internship also defined my career path to an extent, as I found out how much I enjoy working in a small business. Furthermore, I improved my general communication skills in the day-to-day work in a small team of different people, and from different cultures.

From the first day on, I liked Belfast as a place to live. It just has the right size for me – it’s a small city with a capital status, which means the city is not stressful, but there is always something to do. I also enjoyed the friendliness of the people from the beginning and got easily involved in the local community. I found very good friends and built precious relationships. Interacting with people from Northern Ireland every day, let me also understand what exactly “being German” means to me. I think the two cultures are close to each other (other than what I experienced in the Brazilian culture), but still there are differences and it is exciting to have a look beneath the surface.

Europe to me always sounded more like an abstract concept, than a living space, which I can personally create and develop. The mobility programme has definitely changed my understanding of it and I would advise it to everybody.

Ten months later, my internship is completed and I’m still in Belfast. I decided to stay as I didn’t want to pull out the roots that have just started to grow. I found a job in the city that gives me the opportunity to implement competences that I could get during my internship. How long do I plan to stay? I don’t know. But I know that I can always take the next plane from the Dublin Airport, which brings me to Berlin in 2.5 hours, so that I can see my friends and family.  I came for a mobility experience and I finally developed a mobility lifestyle.

Madeline Blackburn - Intern Europe

Having taught all over the world, Madeline is passionate helping young people to find work opportunities overseas. She is a co-director of Intern Europe and ESPA which are dedicated to helping young adults find great work experience and internships across Europe.

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