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6 classic internship disasters and how to avoid them

An internship in a foreign country comes with unexpected challenges, tasks and potential disasters. Avoid these classic issues and make the most of this unique opportunity with these tips for a successful internship.


How to avoid:

1. Completely forgetting about a task or assignment

Be organized with your work. Write down all your tasks for the day, week and month on some sort of calendar or document. All means all. It’s so easy to forget things with various tasks being given to you at once. Make sure to write every single task down so that it doesn’t fall off your radar. Only erase your assignments when they are completely finished.


2. Bailing on your internship

Leaving your position in the middle of your internship is the best way to tarnish your professional reputation. Whether you’re unhappy at the position you have or if you found a more exciting opportunity, there are few legitimate excuses for jumping ship. If you’re not sure about a position or you’re holding out for something better, simply do not accept an internship offer. Quitting halfway through leaves your colleagues in a difficult situation, having to pick up your slack. It also reflects poor judgement and a lack of commitment on your part, which will make other employers think twice before taking you on.


3. Not understanding the office language

Take classes, even if it’s something basic like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, before you embark on your international journey. Watch movies in the foreign language a couple of times each week to expose yourself to the accent. Every day at the office write down phrases you don’t understand and spend a little time each night studying these new words and sounds.


tips for a successful internship


4. Showing up out of dress code

If you can, leave a little room in your suitcase and wallet so you can go shopping for work clothes when you have already seen how people dress at the office. For your first few days, bring neutral and conservative work clothes that have been ironed and cleaned. A button-up shirt and slacks is a good way to go until you start seeing how others show up to work. Also, keep in mind that as a young person, you can never go wrong dressing up more professional. Dressing up can only make you look more legit.


5. Having an emotional meltdown

The emotional stress of starting a new internship and living in a brand new country isn’t to be taken likely. What you’re doing isn’t easy – which is what makes it worth doing. Remember to allow yourself breaks to take a walk, grab a coffee, take some deep breaths. If you’ve had a hard day, it’s ok to acknowledge that and talk about it with friends or family outside of the office. If there’s a serious issue to be addressed at work, follow office protocol and go ahead and say something to your manager or human resources. Whatever the situation is, don’t bottle things up before it’s too late.


tips for a successful internship


6. Complaining too much

Don’t be a negative Nancy or a Debbie downer. Even if you’re unhappy at your internship, complaining will only make things worse. First of all, your colleagues will be turned off by your negativity and less inclined to help you out. You’ll also be less likely to accomplish your goals since you’re approaching work projects with a bad attitude.


Now you know our top tips for a successful internship, apply now to boost your career abroad.




1. based on College of DuPage STEM Professional Development Workshop Teaches the Art of Escape Games 2017 108, by COD Newsroom, CC-by-2.0

2. based on 014/365 – day n nite, by Keirsten Marie, CC-by-2.0

3. based on Office, by Jesús Corrius, CC-by-2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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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!