Published on February 25, 2015

7 must-have qualities of an intern abroad (Do you have what it takes?)

Think you have what it takes to handle an entrepreneurship internship in Hong Kong or a journalism internship in Madrid? Living and working in a new country is the experience of a lifetime. You don't need to be a savvy world traveler or speak a second language fluently, but it does require a certain type of person.

 

good employee qualities

Good employee qualities

 

1. A sense of humor

The ability to laugh at yourself will take you a long ways while living and working abroad. You may accidentally insult someone by not understanding a cultural difference or say something just ridiculous while trying out your Spanish. These blooper moments are an essential part of an internship abroad. When you enter a brand new world you have to let yourself make mistakes and laugh and enjoy them and take it for what it is – the opportunity to learn.

 

2. Open-mindedness

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable,” said US intellectual Clifton Fadiman. That’s why it’s important to keep your mind open and adopt a tolerant disposition during your internship abroad. As a visitor on foreign soil, it’s not your job to judge, make assessments or complain. You’re there to learn, not to feel comfortable. If you think you can embrace new ideas and ways of living, you’re on the right track to being a intern abroad.

 

good employee qualities

3. Curiosity

It may have killed the cat, but as an intern abroad curiosity is sure to bring you to success. Whether it’s during a brand new cultural experience or a first-time professional challenge, an intern abroad shouldn’t stop asking questions. An inquisitive spirit will lead you to take advantage of the professional and cultural opportunities in a foreign country.

 

4. Patience

New cultural customs and a spanking new work environment can be a lot to handle all at once. That’s why having patience with yourself and others is essential to mastering an internship abroad. Picking up a foreign language can be an especially frustrating process if you don’t accept that it takes lots of time and practice Remember: good things come to those who wait.

 

5. Positivity

Being away from all the comforts of home, in a new country, without family or old friends to keep you company can quickly turn a bad day into a terrible day. The solution is to simply stay positive. Overcoming the struggles and adversity you face during your experience abroad is what will make the successes so much richer. You just have to shake off the anxiety and not let the challenges of living abroad weigh too heavy on you. Maintain a good attitude and you’ll realize those sweet comforts of home also hold you back. The adventure of living and working abroad is one of those things you just can’t get at home.

 

good employee qualities

6. Independence

Self-reliance and independence are important qualities for any intern abroad. As an intern, you are required to manage your work schedule and organize most traveling and sightseeing. Also, you probably won’t start your internship in a new city with a giant circle of friends. Though you are sure to establish friendships over time, there will be moments of solitude.

 

7. Perseverance

A week after moving abroad do not expect to be an expert at your internship, the culture, or even how to get around your new city. It takes time and mistakes to find your place and adapt to a new city, let alone new culture. Nobody said interning abroad is easy. You need to have thicker skin than normal to be able to get past those frustrating moments of being inept, scared or lost. The good news is that once you get past those times, you become stronger and more capable of tackling future challenges.

 

Think you have what it takes? Apply now and boost your career!

 

Photo 1. based on Clowning Around by Paul Stein, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on Curious Dog by Johnny Jet, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on The Lost Traveler by Martinak15, CC-by-2.0

The author
Elizabeth Trovall
After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her third year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.

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