6 fatal mistakes to avoid at your internship abroad

An international internship is a great opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience, learn from leading professionals and to create a network of contacts for your future career. To ensure that you’re making the most of the opportunity and building professional relationships for life, be sure not to make any of these mistakes in the workplace.

Avoid making these FATAL mistakes in the workplace


With your boss:

1) Ignoring their communication style

If your boss likes to delegate using emails, respond and communicate using email. If they prefer meetings, bring up concerns in meetings. They set the tone and standard for communication, it’s your job to follow suit.

2) Taking feedback personally

Criticism from your boss is meant to improve your work and make you a more competent professional, rather than to make you feel bad. It can be difficult to see it this way sometimes. Receiving negative feedback when you’re legitimately trying your best is discouraging, but you have to force yourself to take a positive approach. This feedback will make you a better professional. It’s not a reflection on your intelligence or capabilities.

mistakes in the workplace


With your colleagues:

3) Not reaching out

Staying silent at your internship abroad is a fatal mistake. Even if you’re shy, it’s very important to reach out to your coworkers both professionally and socially. It can be daunting, especially in a foreign language, to start up a conversation with someone that you don’t know. However, all it usually takes is a little bit of effort and a smile.

4) Not remembering their names

You may have to create a cheat sheet or use mnemonic devices to remember the names of everybody in your office, but making the effort will pay off. It’s a basic sign of professional respect to know your colleagues’ names. Plus it’s important to know who is who in the office in case you need to talk to another department.


With your work:

5) Taking on more than you can chew

It’s understandable to want to take on as much work as possible at your internship. You want to make the most of the work experience. The thing is, quality matters more than quantity. It’s better to do an excellent job on a smaller amount of work than to go through tons of tasks without investing a lot of brain power. Your work quality will suffer and you won’t learn how to do things right if you put yourself forward for every possible task.

mistakes in the workplace
6) Making assumptions

If you’re not sure about how something should be done, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Assuming a project should be carried out a certain way could mean that you end up doing it the wrong way and your boss will be displeased. Develop channels of communication with your colleagues and superiors so that when you are confused or unsure, asking for help or guidance is easy.


Hopefully you’re not making any of these mistakes in the workplace at your international internship. If you’re yet to secure your internship abroad, apply now to launch your career.


Sources: http://giphy.com/gifs/funny-hilarious-tGZeEE8bGfFiU, http://www.internqueen.com/blog/2016/01/3-ways-maintain-positive-relationship-your-internship-coordinator


Photo 1. based on Summer Internship Program Closing Celebration and Final Presentations, by Maryland GovPics, CC-by-2.0


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!

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth 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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