University of Wisconsin–Madison

The 411 on Interning Abroad

Since I’ve been in Prague, I’ve been taking five classes and doing an eight hour a week internship at the Fulbright Commission. A lot of people decided not to do an internship because they wanted time to travel, meet people, and relax, and didn’t want the pressure of going into a work environment for 8-10 hours a week. Well, to be honest I’m actually not sure what reasons other people had for not doing an internship, those were just my own worries about interning abroad.

However, interning abroad has been one of the best decisions I could have made! First of all, classes here don’t have the same level of pressure as classes at home; don’t get me wrong, they’re difficult and I am learning a lot, but there isn’t the same day-to-day reading requirements and assignments due for every class. This gives a lot more free time every day that would normally be filled with homework. Honestly, even with my internship I still have way more free time than I would at home.

Second, most internship sites understand that they are hiring an international student, and are accommodating with schedules (particularly giving students Friday’s off to travel). My supervisor, for instance, was really flexible in scheduling, and was a great help for learning about professional norms in the Czech Republic, which can be very different than in the United States (though it really depends on where you work—in a large Czech company things would most likely be very similar).

Finally, as someone who wants to work internationally, this experience was the most helpful, hands on way to earn credit for my major, build practical experience working in an international work environment and with Czech professionals, and build invaluable connections. At Fulbright in particular I’ve been able to travel to Brno, Czech Republic for a week and work at the Gaudeamus Fair, a university and study abroad fair for Czech and Slovak students; I’ve been able to meet the Public Affairs Officer for the American Embassy in Prague; I’ve attended events at the Embassy’s American Center; and I’ve been able to have discussions and build a connection with my supervisor, who has worked at Fulbright for eighteen years and holds a wealth of knowledge about the field.

Really, the only downside of interning abroad is having to be at work at 9am on Monday mornings… but that’s a small price to pay in exchange for a professional experience in another culture and gaining lifelong connections.