It is almost exactly a year since I started a 6-month internship in esome advertising technologies GmbH in Hamburg. I was doing my Master studies in Software Engineering and I got an opportunity to work within a team responsible for the quality of the software product developed in the company.
This part of the year will always have a special meaning for me. With the end of June, all those feelings from a year ago are coming back and reminding me of one of the most significant events in my life, all the excitement and expectations, but also the anxiety about the unknown and challenges I was about to face.
However, from the moment we entered a plane to Berlin, only the positive vibes have spread among our group. We were eager to get to know each other, to share our expectations and plans for the next few months, but also to support one another in harder times.
Maybe the hardest moment was when, after the amazing preparatory week in Berlin, full of different people, places and activities, each one of us had to step alone in his/her room, in the apartment, or someone even in the city with no familiar people. The length of that moment was different for all of us, but one thing was certainly mutual – it ended. It ended after the first walk around the city, or the first dinner with a roommate, or the first trip to visit a fellow intern in another city.
After that, came the second walk, and the third dinner, and the 10th trip. And hundreds of amazing experiences, some seemingly insignificant, but maybe the most memorable. The first day at work when your colleagues took you to a “newbie” lunch. The avocado burger you had for that lunch. The spontaneous trip to a nearby city on a day of a summer festival that you didn’t even know about (and all that coins that you gave to the street musicians – but they were really good!). All the city tours you gave to the friends who visited you (and all the “facts” you told to sound like a real guide). Drinking beer with your colleagues every Friday after work (and during one of those – an informal presentation of what you have done during your first month). Being on a boat in the middle of a canal not really knowing how to row. Staying out until 5 am just to try the raw fish on the fish market (but to be honest, fried shrimps were better).
I could go on, but what is more important is the idea itself, that everything is possible on the internship; that being in a new professional and life environment gives you the opportunity to estimate your limits (are there any?), to master overcoming the challenges, and to learn how to be proactive and show initiative. If there are no outstanding tasks at work, try to come up with your own idea how to contribute and create a new value. If no one is planning a weekend trip (which is really, really rare), be the one to suggest a fun thing to do. Or just stay at home, let the city embrace you, and enjoy the actual fact that you are living and working in the foreign country, which is already a big thing! Pay attention to how locals are living, buy some decoration for your room to make you feel more like home, sit on a bike and stroll around a lake. Or even bake Christmas cookies for the whole team with your colleagues!
And although some aspects of the internship you cannot choose, you can always choose to make the best of it. The key is to invest all of you, both in your work and in your free time (and if you think it is not possible, believe me – even when you’re tired, you will also be fulfilled and happy), and to know that during every meeting, every train ride and every talk over a coffee (or a beer), you are becoming a new person, a stronger version of yourself ready for new challenges in life!
P.S. Rain can be bad. But not as much if you have someone to share an umbrella with.
Petra Antic, Generation 2017