First things first, if you’re reading this, you’ve thought about applying for an international internship.
Internships abroad have been trending in the past years with good reason. They are a source of self-development and a boost for your future career, giving you that extra advantage to outshine the competition.
Now might not be the most ideal time to travel for most people, but that doesn’t mean you cannot work on your next steps. That’s exactly what I did! I started off with some unsuccessful applications and interviews like anyone else, but I learned from them and I finally got accepted to an internship in Belgium! My name is Brigi and I’m here to share my learnings with you throughout this process, so you can succeed too!
Know what you want
Before even submitting an application, you need to be clear about what you want to do, and where you want to go (career-wise and also geographically). The easiest way to do so is to jot down a list of experiences, elements that bring you a boost of energy. If it feels right, it probably is what you are looking for. Next to it, the list of possible destinations. The broader the better. And now what is missing is to browse. Add the opportunities that match with what you have written down to your favorites for later review.
I personally knew I wanted to go for the fields of HR and business administration and that is what I was looking for.
Get familiar with the job description
After reading the job description, I would decide whether this opportunity was something for me or not. Some questions that emerged in my head were: “Do I know how to do this?” for every single line mentioned in the responsibilities section. If the answer was yes for the majority of it, then I would proceed with the next step of educating myself more about the company. Bear in mind that you do not have to fit the description 100%. At the end of the day, you are applying to learn something new, so do not get discouraged!
Do your homework
Research, research, research. The research was my best friend and will be yours as well, just a little bit before hitting that send button.
Find out more about the company’s values, mission, and the latest projects they are working on. All of that can be easily found on their website. Make sure to check out their blog posts, too!
Is the company aligned with your own values? If yes, this will be a great advantage. Now that you know what they are looking for, it is time to update your CV.
… and here is how:
- Edit your summary by highlighting the common values that you and the company have. This way you are making it easy for them to see that you could be a good fit for them.
- Align your experience with the job description. Use the keywords that can be found in the description and edit your past responsibilities with it.
- Make sure you add only the relevant experience to your CV that showcases your skills for this specific opportunity.
- Now hit that send button!
After submitting my application and receiving an invitation for the interview, I looked up possible answers to the most common interview questions.
In my first interview, I thought I knew it all, but I was terribly wrong. For my second interview, I prepared better, I learned from my mistakes. It took me around 3 full hours of watching videos and reading articles on how to answer interview questions.
I noted down all the tips and crafted my own answers based on the company and the position I was about to get interviewed for.
I made sure to align everything and, most importantly, connect all the details.
Ensure everything is set up
The day of the interview is here. Even if it is an online interview, do not forget to pick the appropriate outfit to wear At the end of the day, it is an interview, and first impressions matter. Secondly, even though it is not a “must”, set up your laptop/computer at eye level, if possible, so that it looks more like you are talking directly to the recruiter in front of you.
And of course, do not forget to smile!
You’re not done yet
One step which I missed, in the beginning, was not sending the recruiters and hiring managers a thank you email after the interview. You are not the only person applying for this opportunity and you want to be remembered. Thank you emails can be the deciding factor between you and another candidate. So, do not forget about the thank you email! Also, make sure it is to be sent within 24h after the interview.
To sum up!
1. Know what path you want to take career-wise and browse through the opportunities.
2. Compare the job description with your CV. Make it as aligned as possible.
3. Research about the company. Make sure they know that you not only know who they are but also do your research well.
4. Craft your answers and practice, practice, practice.
5. Ensure that the microphone, camera, and software being used for the call are working properly, with the attire ready for the face-to-face interview.6. Send a thank you email afterward. It could be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.
Lastly, do not give up if you are not selected after your first application. Look at it as a practice opportunity instead. Every time you fall, you have the opportunity to get up stronger, and next time you are faced with a challenge, you will be ready to overcome it. You will learn and get better after each and every interview. Failure does not define you unless you allow it to.