internship abroad with 4exchange south africa

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internship abroad with 4exchange south africa


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information on doing an internship abroad

Doing an internship abroad versus doing an internship in your home country

An internship is the ultimate possibility for students to put the theory they have studied during their education so far, into practice. Through an internship they are in the position to further develop important knowledge and competences in their field of work. Moreover, it offers them the chance to get a feel for the working life.

Doing an internship abroad also gives students the opportunity to experience another country, culture and language at the same time. This makes doing an internship abroad a very valuable experience both on the professional, as well as on the personal level.

For many students doing an internship in a foreign country means a healthy step into the unknown. It means you first step as a 'young working professional', next to spending some time in a differently country for a while. How well do you adjust to your new life in your new environment? How do you manage to adapt to a new culture, a new language, new people?

Many students take the opportunity to combine their work experience with travelling in their 'new country'. Is there a better way to mix business and pleasure?


Doing an internship abroad, exactly how unknown is the unknown?

When you do your internship in your home country, you often know exactly what to expect: what time you are supposed to be in the office, what the company expects from you, what you can expect from the company, who will be your supervisor and how the rules of the game are. When doing an internship in a foreign country, it might mean you will have to adjust your expectations every now and then. Often this has to do with cultural differences. Don't underestimate these differences, no matter how 'western'’ the country you do your internship, might appear to be.

Reality shows that virtually all foreign students regularly come across these cultural differences. As soon as you get used to the flexibility of adapting your expectations once in a while, it gets a lot easier. Check out the website, which provides a lot of valuable information on cultural differences between countries. Doing an internship in South Africa also implies getting acquainted with some cultural differences.


South African companies are not always familiar with 'internships'

In your (European) home country, just about every company or organization knows very well what an internship entails. Not surprisingly, since nearly every European student does at least one during their education. In South Africa, this definitely isn't the case. Many students don't have to do an internship during their education at school or university, very little actually really do. As a logic result, many South African companies don't really know the concept of an internship, nor do they know what it exactly is an intern does.

This means that, as opposed to the clear-cut agreements European interns have with European companies, in South Africa coming to 'hard agreements' with a company can be somewhat more difficult. Some companies find it difficult to know what to expect from an intern, what they can and cannot ask them to do. When you are an international student doing an internship in South Africa, this means you have to be persistent in setting up clear agreements with your company when it comes to your tasks and expectations during your internship. Make it very clear to your South African company what you expect from them, as well as what they can expect from your side. Hence: make sure to explain to them what it means to have an intern in their company. Always emphasize that the central point of focus during your internship should be your learning experience above anything else.


However, this doesn't mean you should be too rigid about what it is you will and will not do. Do keep in mind that doing an internship is by no means one-way traffic. You expect a company to provide you with valuable learning moments, they might expect you to jump in and give a hand once in a while, even when it doesn't regard one of your learning moments. Flexibility is the key word, as to always maintain a balance between being part of the company and its daily ongoing, as well as making sure you fulfil your own personal learning goals.


How to prepare for an internship abroad?

Studying in a foreign country often means you don't get to visit the country before the big step, depending on how far away it is or if you perhaps you have already been there before. Assuming you are a European student coming to do an internship in South Africa, chances you come to Cape Town prior, are relatively slim. Which means a solid preparation for your internship, is all the more important.

On the internet you can find many different websites, offering any international student very valuable and significant information. They provide information on several popular countries for international students, as well as offering helpful tips and advice to keep in mind when doing an internship in these countries.


Tips for choosing a country for your internship abroad:

  1. Choose the country for your internship carefully. Make sure to have some basic knowledge about its society, history, religion, customs, language(s), economy, geography, political system, visa and climate of the country;
  2. Always do some sort of checking of the internship company and your contact person on the internet prior to departure. Call your contact person to introduce yourself: this gives you the chance to a) get in direct contact with him/her and b) be able to find out more about the company and a first impression of it through direct contact. Obviously, when you organize your internship through an official mediating company, there is no need to do this, since they have done that 'research' for you;
  3. Never book your ticket before the actual internship contract is signed by all parties, and your education has approved the foreign internship.

Finding and organizing your internship abroad

One of the biggest challenges of doing an internship in another country is finding a decent internship company. Make sure you put a lot of effort in this vital phase. Some students get assigned good internship companies through their education's network, other students try to find a suitable company themselves or ask a mediation company like 4exchange to help them.
Either way, make sure that everything is well taken care of, regardless of who finds you your internship company. Because once you have found yourself a reliable working place, you are only half way. You must be sure to have the right papers, a visa, possibly transport, and of course, suitable accommodation. Next to the practical arrangements, one shouldn'’t forget the social aspect of doing an internship in a different country. Being in touch with other students, for fun nights out, for travelling and to share your experiences is an essential part of making your time abroad a successful and fun one.


Working with a mediation company for your internship abroad

If you choose to work with a mediation company to organize your internship abroad, make sure to do some research before. Often there are significant mutual differences in services and prices, which are worthy to investigate. Large international internship mediation companies often have branches in many different countries, which means you should always ask if they have an agent located in the country you would like to do your internship.

Would you rather have a closer personal contact with your internship mediation company during your internship, best is to choose for a smaller, locally operating mediating company such as 4exchange.


Interested in doing an internship in Cape Town, South Africa?

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