Hola! Puedes escucharme?
Right everyone let’s get something clear from the start: Yes, I do know how to use a laptop, yes I have used Skype before and yes I have still managed to make a fool of myself on video call, and to be precise THE video call: my one chance to save my year abroad experience in the times of corona.
As most of you already know year abroad was cancelled, and then made available again in July for some lucky people ( me included) and then cancelled (AGAIN!) because of the increasing number of cases in some European countries so it’s safe to say that it has been quite a rollercoaster that I have personally not thoroughly enjoyed. Please do not let the extra salty tone make you think I think exchanges should not have been cancelled, I’m not that kind of person…
From in the bag to begging
Howeverrr, I know my fellow language students will understand the frustration of feeling constantly played by the university like fuckboys play with my feelings, I can only handle one emotionally abusive relationship at a time. (too much?? sorry) Clearly, this academic year developed in me strong trust issues, no one seemed to bother explaining how hard finding internship in the sector I wanted to work was, nor tell me how to prepare for an interview in a foreign language and there have been many times where I thought I wouldn’t even get to that. How many of you were told that the application process for university placements was going to be easy? Or you were guaranteed a place? Well turns out even if spending time abroad is mandatory for your degree, there’s still a possibility you won’t. The new year started and so I began my perpetual AND phrenetical search for Internships in the Spanish speaking world, in these last 9 months there were times where I was ‘so close’ from getting the job, to the company risking to go bankrupt and reaching a level of desperation so high I considered accepting some unpaid internships on the other side of the world to then decided to move to one of the covid-19 epicenter’s city and expect to find a job and some new hot friends. Obviously, that didn’t happen and I ended up taking up a complete new plan which I constantly re-consider and doesn’t involve me speaking Spanish ever, thought on a sunny Thursday morning gave its fruits.
Preparing for an online Interview
So here I am super enthusiastic and ready to sell myself. With a slight veil of sweat on my forehead and smiling nervously in front of the camera I began ‘Hola, Puede escucharme?’ only to be returned by an awkward but well-meaning smile, or so I keep telling myself. The realization hit quite quickly luckily for me: my camera was not on and neither was my microphone, I was talking to myself all along. I quickly typed some grammatically incorrect Spanish apologizing and telling them I’d call right back and I believe I started running to my brother’s room at the same time as I ended the call, I definitely felt like I was reaching a new level of multitasking x Usain Bolt.
After my brother single-handedly saved me from another two months of agony in the world of ‘paid internship’ searches on google and sending any more email begging for some experience in companies that will never even read my woeful letters, I tried to get myself together and ace the interview. Now, if you know me, you’d know that I’d rather spend my time planning than to actually do what I should be doing, so as always I prepared, color-coded, made diagrams, read articles and chose the layout wisely, and since we live in a fast-consuming society and I needed the information pronto, I went to the place I knew could provide YouTube aka the plug. A couple of hours later and my little baby was born. I decide to write in in the language my interview was going to be on, but here is the English version.
Learn from my mistakes: A guide for finding Internships abroad
- Cover letter and CVs: a good place to start with your search is to have these two ready in the specific language, and no google translate is not our friend! If you can get a friend or a tutor to correct any mistakes and make them sound more natural. Also check out these two websites that have helped me find words I didn’t really know the existence of:
- Connections: before you attack me, let me tell you that you do not have to be a pollock yah to have connections, write a short and straight-to-the-point email to your tutors or year abroad coordinators, telling them what kind of experience you’d like to do and if they know if other students have done similar things in the past either in the specific country you’d like to go to or other places. You might find that someone worked in a company that has more bases in the world or end up in a friend of a friend situation.
- Websites: Since we do not put all our eggs in one basket, after your done emailing friends of a friend make sure you check out these websites:
- For Edinburgh students Mycareerhub offers many opportunities in a lot of places and in different sectors.
- Spain Internships (for internships in Spain, however you can sometimes use other languages during the internship)This website requires you to register and build a profile selecting a range of jobs you’d like to gain experience of and asks you to make a top 5 job preference. Before you get contacted by them you will have to have a phone interview or make a video showing you are not a robot and they will then contact your first choice company to organize an interview, if you are successful you will need to ask the university for a training agreement which you will need to fill-out and then send to the company and back to the university. If you are required to give a deposit of 100 euros the Erasmus funding will cover it for you.
- Research Companies: If you already know where you want to work and who with then try emailing HR or a contact you are able to find and just send them your super persuasive cover letter, CV and hope for the best. Here’s some advice for writing speculative applications
- Email, email, email! don’t get discouraged xx
Depending on what sphere of work you’d like to get experience in, finding an internship could become quite a long process, however, I like to think there is still a need for young professionals that can be legally underpaid :))
Front picture from: vectorstock.com