Published on April 20, 2015

7 ways to make a good impression at your internship abroad

How to make a good first impression

 

1. Show a genuine interest in the lives of your coworkers

The operative word here is genuine. If your coworker talks about their children or what they did over the weekend, listen, ask them follow-up questions, remember what they're saying and engage with them. It will go such a long way. Not only does making those personal connections in the office make the workday go so much faster, it's also easier to ask questions when you have a friend beside you, not just a colleague.

 

make a good first impression

 

2. Read the news / know what’s going on in the country

It’s a good idea to keep tabs on the current events going on in the foreign country you’re living in. It reflects a sincere interest what’s happening to the country, a respect for the people, their lives and politics. You don’t have to know a lot to show that you’ve been reading. Bringing up an interesting local news piece might also be a good conversation starter with a boss or colleague.

 

3. Ask questions, tactfully

I think as a society we've decided, yes, there's such a thing as a stupid question. That's why it's good to think things through before asking a coworker something. You'll earn the respect of those around you if you try and solve a problem yourself before depending on another person. That being said, during those first weeks on the job in a new country, you’re probably going to need a lot of direction. Once you’ve given a problem some thought, ask. And don’t be afraid to ask when you do.

 

make a good first impression

 

4. Be respectful

Every culture has its own ways of showing respect, each office with its own little variations. Really put an effort into observing your coworkers, how they interact, how they show respect and care for one another and try to emulate that. It may seem forced at first, but it will demonstrate a lot about your character if you are willing to express yourself their way.

 

5. Get your work done

This is an easy one. Finish your work, even if it means staying late. It will show that you actually care about the task and how it contributes to the office as a whole. Of course, be reasonable. No need to spend hours after work working on a project, just do your very best to manage your time during office hours so you can finish your tasks.

 

6. Be on time

In some cultures punctuality is more valued than in others. Still, as an intern you are the one in the office with the most to prove. Getting in on time, even if your coworkers do not, will show that you take the position seriously and are dedicated to the job.

 

make a good first impression

 

7. Dress to impress (within cultural norms)

Perception matters, especially in the workplace. Each internship destination has its own professional dress code, so do your research before flying out and bring with you as much professional clothing as possible. Also be willing to buy a few items to blend in once you get there, if you realize the rest of your office is wearing something you didn’t bring. You’re in a country with its own set of customs, including dress code, so play by the local rules and dress accordingly.

 

Photo 1. based on Handshake - 2 men by Flazingo Photos, 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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