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Ask the intern: How to make friends on your international internship

Hi Sugar, I am a student at Northumbria University in the UK and I have just been accepted onto the Melbourne program for an internship in business. I can’t wait to start my internship and go to Australia for the first time. However, I’m slightly apprehensive about the whole thing as it will be my first time living away from the UK. It’s definitely outside of my comfort zone. The thought of moving to a country where I literally know nobody makes me feel a bit anxious. I’m sure it’ll be ok in the end but I could do with some reassurance that I will make friends at my internship and outside of the office. Thanks for your help!


Hi Penelope! Thanks for getting in touch with your question. First of all, congratulations on your acceptance to the Melbourne program, I’m sure it’ll be the experience of a lifetime! I completely understand where you’re coming from. Although the prospect of moving so far from home seems adventurous and exciting at first, panic can start to set in. In the few weeks leading up to my departure date for my internship here at The Intern Group, I was petrified I would be lonely. I was scared I would have no friends, which seems silly looking back! However, lots of people have this fear. Below I’ve compiled my best advice on how to make friends at work and beyond while interning abroad.

1. Flatmates to best friends

As you may know from university, perhaps the most convenient and easily-made friends are those under your own roof. It sounds a bit soppy, but your flatmates can quickly begin to feel like your second family. Luckily, at The Intern Group your accommodation is shared, so you are guaranteed to live with other like-minded people.

If you’re feeling nervous, remember that you’re all in the same boat. Chances are, they’re just as nervous about being away from their friends and family as you are. Make an effort from the start by introducing yourself and suggesting going for a coffee as a way to break the ice. In a few weeks when you’ve got a good friend, you’ll be glad you put yourself out there.

how to make friends at work

2. Never say never (or no)

When I asked one of my most sociable friends how she managed to become friends with so many people, she told me when she first got to know people, she never said no to plans. I couldn’t believe it was that simple. But it’s true, we often decline invitations for fear of being too keen or because we’re a bit scared. However, if you fight past this reaction and say yes then you open yourself up to a world of possibilities. You never know when a night out or a coffee could pave the way for a beautiful friendship!

3. Consider your colleagues

Like your flatmates, your colleagues should be a go-to group of people to befriend. You spend a lot of your time with them and you already have something in common with them by default. If there are other interns at your company, suggest that you all grab lunch together or ask if they’re walking home the same way as you. Having friends in the office can make the days go quicker. It also means you’ll have a guaranteed lunch group!

how to make friends at work

4. Take advantage of the events

Another perk of The Intern Group program is the selection of organized events and activities. While these are a great way to get to know your new city, they are also an excellent way to get to know fellow program participants. You get the chance to meet people from all over the world. They ultimately become friends for life. Make sure that you exchange contact information and then you can arrange your own activities!

5. Don’t be scared to be eager

I know putting yourself out there can be hard. Often, we’re scared of rejection or to be thought of as too enthusiastic. However, I can guarantee that this is all in your head! When you’re in a new place where you know no one, being proactive in your socializing is vital. Make the first move and invite people over for a big movie night or out to do some sightseeing. Before you know it, you’ll have a huge group of friends to share your experience with.

Now you know all about how to make friends at work and beyond, apply today to launch your career with an international internship.



1. by The Intern Group

2. based on so melbourne,by Alan Lam, CC-by-SA 2.0

3. based on coffees,by Maria Keays, CC-by-SA 2.0

Photos and blog by Sugar Thomas

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!