Tina – I felt like a proper part of the team and an appreciated colleague
A story by Tina, from Germany
Country of origin: Germany
I am a German student of Business Education and my future job requires 1 year of work experience. This work experience doesn’t have to happen abroad, but it was my desire to gain work experience in an English speaking country.
I started looking for a placement abroad 6 months before my internship start date. I knew it would be difficult to find something, but I didn’t expect it would be that hard. I had send out around 70 applications for internship all over the world, followed by several Skype interviews, until I applied at ESPA. Most of the other internships turned out to be unpaid (what I couldn’t afford) or the job description did not fit the criteria of my university. In January, I found an ESPA (www.espauk.com) flyer at my university, got curious and registered on the ESPA website. A few weeks later, I had a Skype interview with Madeline, one of the two directors at ESPA, who explained me how ESPA works and asked me questions about my skills and my expectations/requirements for the internship. Afterwards, I had another phone call with Colin, the other ESPA director, and a second Skype interview with him. He offered me the position at ESPA, and after a short consideration, I happily accepted the opportunity. ESPA supported me considering my Erasmus grant application and all questions I had before my arrival. I haven’t had much time to organise my move to England, but it all went smoothly. A few days after my last exam, late February 2014, I arrived at Bristol airport. Colin waited for me at the airport and drove with me to my accommodation in Bath.
Bath is a beautiful place and a very livable city as there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, pubs and attractions. It’s not for no reason an UNESCO world heritage city. Due to two universities there are many young people and especially during the summer there are a number of tourists visiting Bath.
My role at ESPA included marketing/sales related tasks as well as HR related tasks. I contacted European universities and other educational institutions to inform them about the free placement service ESPA offers students and to post our current vacancies on university websites or job portals. Furthermore, I went to exhibitions to promote ESPA and talked to companies about the opportunity to take an international intern to grow their exports, develop new markets (due to foreign language skills) or accomplish other internal projects (e.g. IT, design or translation related projects). Also, I communicated with applicants and conducted Skype interviews. During my time at ESPA, I had the chance to get involved into many aspects of a small business and I learned a lot about the daily challenges of a business as such and also about myself and my skills. Due to a great level of responsibilities, I had the opportunity to work independent and structure my own workflows.
After 4 months working at ESPA in Bath I got the chance to work the remaining 2 months of my internship in Belfast at the sister company of ESPA, Intern Europe (www.interneurope.org). At Intern Europe, I mainly worked in the HR department, conducted interviews and helped to organise the internal processes (placement information, arrival packages, airport pickup, language school, accommodation) and the paper work for all the arriving and leaving student groups. After a short while felt like a proper part of the team and an appreciated colleague at both ESPA and Intern Europe. The integration into the teams went smoothly and the many social activities (go-karting, dinner, barbeque, a trip to Northern Ireland’s coast etc.) helped to develop a great team spirit.
Time was flying and the end at the end of the internship it was hard to say good-bye as it felt like saying good-bye to family. I went back to Germany to finish my degree.
What did mobility brought to your life; from personal and professional point of view? The internship abroad helped me to develop from a personal as well as from a professional point of view. From a professional aspect I believe it will improve my job opportunities after my graduation. The work experience at ESPA will help me in all my future jobs. From a personal aspect, I gained more self-confidence and made some good friends.
Do you feel that mobility helped you to feel like a European citizenship? Yes, I think that a mobility experience helps to feel like more like a European citizen. I think that I got a good insight into a new country and culture. However, also some of the differences between the European countries became clearer to me due to the experience.
Would you advise a mobility experience to your friends/family? I am convinced that a mobility experiences broadens the participants horizons, helps them grow up and to be more independent. I would advise everyone to take part in a mobility project. I strongly believe in intercultural exchange and my experience in England has not been my first international experience and will probably not be my last.