My Experience with Languages and Internships in Europe!
This blog is written by Nina, our Intern Queen Campus Ambassador at Erasmus University in The Netherlands! Nina has traveled all over the globe! Read about some of her European internship adventures below. If you attend Erasmus University and want to blog for us - please comment here and Nina will be in touch!
A little bit about my experience with languages and internships in Europe!
Growing up mainly in the USA and Asia, I had done all of my schooling in international schools so English became, at a very young age, my first language. One of my first internships was at an advertising agency in Slovenia, where I interned for just under three months last summer. I’d started doing the internship a bit scared that my knowledge of the Slovenian language wouldn’t be good enough to deal with the tasks that I had throughout my workday. This is a problem that many international students come across when doing internships in Europe: language. Before applying to my current internship at StudentEvents.com (a Dutch based company where English is the universal language, not only because it’s an internationally oriented company, but also because not a single employee is from the same country), I had troubles finding an internship for almost two years because every single internship had one requirement I couldn’t get past: fluency in Dutch. Many of the internships I’d been looking for all over Europe had the same requirement where you needed to be fluent in the national language. Unless you’re planning on working for a multinational company, or you’ve already finished your Masters, chances are that you’ll have a hard time finding an internship that lets you use only English. From personal experience, not speaking the national language can be a bit of an issue if you’re working directly in PR or Journalism, but nearly everyone in Europe speaks more than enough English to help you around. Also, English is a world language and regardless of where you work there is always something to be done in English: when I interned at the Slovenian advertising agency I would sometimes use English to translate reports and presentations for international clients.
I’m the External Relations Manager at StudentEvents.com so I am writing dozens of e-mails a day and calling numerous organizations and companies every week. Regardless of which country I’m writing or calling to, whether it be Germany or Spain, we still use English and I’ve never had any problems. Funnily, I’d spoken to a PR coordinator of an international organization the other day and turns out we come from the same country. If you can imagine, our conversation was the craziest mix of two languages – neither of us even noticed J.
International faculties in national European universities try their best to give their students an extensive database of internships where they can primarily use English. Sometimes university courses require you to have an internship and others let you choose between a minor, exchange or an internship. In my case, we need to do either a minor or exchange and a mandatory internship! I’m still looking for places to do my internship; hopefully I’ll be going somewhere in Asia or the USA because I wonder whether there is a difference between internships around the world. In Europe, you definitely won’t be carrying coffee or photocopying papers and you’ll learn so much within such a short period of time, how is it elsewhere?