January 25, 2024, by ppyab15
Navigating the path to a summer internship abroad
by Anna Beer, physics student
Embarking on the task of looking for an international summer internship can be daunting, especially when you’re looking to work in a specific sector and/or region. In my search of an opportunity in the green energy industry in Europe, I discovered a few unconventional strategies that ultimately led to a rewarding summer internship for a research company in Norway.
Here’s how I navigated the process:
Broaden your search to companies, not just job roles
The first hurdle I faced was finding specific jobs in a particular country. Rather than fixating on niche job roles or very specific locations, I opted to broadly explore companies in both my desired locations and industry. I began with straightforward Google searches such as “energy companies in Europe”, “energy research in Europe,” or even “energy companies in [specific country].” These searches yielded the names of big international companies like BP, Shell, and EON, providing a solid starting point. While these large companies often offer summer internships, it’s crucial not to limit yourself to them.
Unconventional company discovery methods
The question then arises: ‘How do you find small to medium sized enterprises that may not surface in a typical Google search?’ I discovered two effective methods: networking and social media exploration. Informing people that you’re looking for an internship can generate surprising results. Family friends or acquaintances might have connections in your desired industry or location.
Alternatively, social media platforms like Instagram can be an unexpected goldmine. I call this technique the “Instagram rabbit hole”. I started with the Instagram page of a major company, like BP. By exploring their followers or suggested accounts (the accounts Instagram recommends you when you follow a page), I stumbled upon big enterprises like Equinor and then small to medium enterprises such as VortexNTNU and ultimately SINTEF, where I eventually secured my internship. This method may be time-consuming, but it’s a valuable way to uncover hidden gems not easily found through traditional searches.
Diversify your search: look for summer jobs and placements
Companies, countries, and industries use different terms for internships, such as summer jobs or summer placements. To cast a wider net, don’t limit your search in a company’s job board to just “internships.” My own summer internship was listed as a “summer job,” demonstrating the importance of using varied search terms. Explore the job boards of your target companies thoroughly, as the perfect opportunity might be listed under a different title.
Apply even if you Feel underqualified
One of the most valuable lessons I learned was not to shy away from applying for positions even if I felt slightly underqualified or lacked specific qualifications. I applied for a summer job in fuel cells for cars, despite having zero experience in the field and being two years away from completing my degree when they asked for someone in their penultimate year of study. I managed to get an interview for the position and even though I didn’t secure the initial position, my CV caught the attention of their co-workers, leading to an interview for another upcoming position which I was successful at!
understand the nuances
Countries operate in their own distinct ways and many differ from the UK. Consider aspects like varying summer holiday schedules, different currencies, fluctuating exchange rates, visa requirements, language requirements and what their healthcare system is like.
In my experience the Norwegian summer holiday extended from mid-May to mid-August which meant the application period for many Norwegian companies was generally earlier than the UK. Since the UK left the EU, to work in Norway, for any amount of time, a residence permit is needed. In my case however, I have a Norwegian citizenship and so I was able to get a Norwegian passport, which meant I could work there visa free. Despite the option to receive payments in my English bank account, the unfavourable exchange rate at the time prompted me to open a Norwegian bank account, (which in my case was a bit of a pain), however, in many countries the process can be made simpler through platforms like Wise. Though I never needed to use the Norwegian healthcare system, I did research it before to ensure I had access to emergency care if I required it.
The journey to finding and securing an international summer internship involves thinking outside the conventional job search box. By focusing on companies, using the people around you and social media, diversifying search terms, and applying boldly, you can increase your chances of landing the perfect opportunity.
If you need further support looking for a summer internship, make an appointment with the Careers and Employability Service or visit their website.
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