Backstage: Finding an internship as an international student

Picture of By Amber Brizar

By Amber Brizar

[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”48″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]S[/mks_dropcap]ome Communication Science students are now starting to look for their internship and this is exciting – but stressful. Even if you are not yet looking for an internship, most of us want to find ‘the perfect one’. But how do you find it and more importantly: how do you actually get it? Especially for international students the struggle can be real since many internships require you to be able to speak Dutch. We interviewed Maximilian Hentschel, a third year international student, about his experience at his current internship and more specifically: how he got it.

“Everybody gets their coffees themselves”
At around 9 am every morning, Maximilian gets to the Amsterdam South office of Boehringer Ingelheim, a German pharmaceutical company. He is an intern at the Communications and Affairs department which means that he usually fills his days working on social media and doing analysis on how to improve the communication of the company.

According to him, the atmosphere at the firm is very relaxed and there is not much of a hierarchical structure. He is not a ‘typical’ intern that has to get everybody’s coffee – everybody does this themselves. They also trust him with helping set up guidelines for the department, since the department is relatively new and does not have set rules and regulations yet. This is very nice for him because this means he gets quite a lot of freedom even though the company is already quite big and established.

The bumpy road to finding his internship
When asking him whether he agrees with the idea that for international students it might be harder to find an internship in Amsterdam, Maximilian affirmed that his journey to getting this internship was not easy to say the least. When starting to look for internships, he went in with quite a few expectations, as I think many of us will. But this definitely did not help him along the way. Many companies required him to be able to speak Dutch and sometimes he found this out at the very last minute – which as you imagine can be quite demotivating.

So how did he actually end up finding an internship at Boehringer Ingelheim? Well, he started looking in his own network of people and just started reaching out. Eventually, he sent an email to the German pharmaceutical company to see if maybe they had a spot for him – and the rest is history.

You might already know people who have connections that might be interesting for you and do not be afraid to reach out

Networking is key
So what can we learn from his story and what tips does he have for students looking for an internship? The most important thing according to Maximilian is to use your network. You might already know people who have connections that might be interesting for you and do not be afraid to reach out. One very convenient way to keep in touch with your network is through your LinkedIn account. In the Netherlands specifically, LinkedIn is very important in business networking and this means that you can get a lot of great opportunities through the platform.                       

Also, do not be afraid to try and contact companies who do not necessarily openly state that they are looking for interns. There is no harm in just emailing them and seeing whether they can use someone. A lot of times it actually comes across better since it really shows that you want to work for them and that you are motivated.

Have an open mind
When looking for internship you might have the tendency to have high hopes and expectations but the thing is, you never know what is really suited for you unless you try. So do not be to stuck with your ‘dream internship’ in your head because sometimes trying something else will actually work out better. Hopefully you will find the right spot for you – just like Maximilian did.

Cover: Desiree Janssen / Final editor: Loïs Marcus 

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