I remember those constant summer days when all I had to do was some basic research for a report, and I could take one-hour coffee breaks, walk around the building and join some random workshops? Ah… *fast forwarding to the present* Not the case anymore!
For the first time in my life I have emails to answer when I get to the office every morning.
For those who don’t know, I am taking an internship at the Danish Embassy in Buenos Aires. I decided to go for this experience after listening to my friends’ experiences in other embassies around the world, plus because it is my last semester of my master’s thus my last chance to take an internship with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as one of the requirements is to be enrolled at a Danish institution – and because if the time for adventures isn’t now, when?
I had a fairly good experience in my previous internship at the United Nations, but because of the nature of the institution and bureaucracy, interns are not given a lot of responsibilities. I needed a more dynamic environment where I can get slightly more responsibilities and definitely a more diverse range of tasks. And this is what I said during the phone call with Jonas, the head of the commercial department at the Embassy and my current supervisor. So what am I doing here?
A bit of everything. Interns are officially part of the Trade Council, but we help with everything that the Embassy needs help with, in fact after the adjustment and learning period is over, we are treated as full-time employees – never forgetting that we are here to learn and experience a new culture as well. Overall, our mission is to help Danish companies that are either already in the market or wish to enter – including assistance for companies that want to import products from Argentina to Denmark, which is my favorite part as I am finally putting the knowledge learnt from my Bachelor in International Business into practice.
We are also part of organizing official delegations of Danish companies visiting Argentina, updating social media, and helping to translate some documents as our working languages are English, Danish and Spanish. Being an intern at this Embassy makes you truly feel useful as you are contributing to the everyday functioning of the embassy.
The biggest difference compared with my experience at the UN is the work relationships I have built with my colleagues. The UN has a heavy rotation of interns, almost every week someone leaves and someone new comes. The only constant colleague you are assured you will work with for the whole duration is your supervisor.
Here, however, everyone is permanent. The team that receives you at the beginning will most likely be the same team that will say goodbye at the end.
This means that you have to make the effort to create good trusting relationships so as to feel comfortable when you come to work every day. I have been incredibly lucky with my team. They have all been extraordinarily welcoming, they made us feel like we belonged to the team after one week at work, and they genuinely trust us – which is something characteristic of the Danish working culture, but I wasn’t expecting to see it abroad.
After almost two months here, I can firmly say I am incredibly happy I decided to take the opportunity.
If you are a (business) student who is looking for real-life experience in a foreign country but keeping the Danish working culture, check out the embassies (and other organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such as Trade Councils or Innovation Centers).
They offer internships all around the world, so just pick a country you want to learn more about and apply. It’s a unique experience.