Ireland: Interning Abroad in Dublin

Internships. Something that goes hand in hand with becoming an adult and entering the “business world”.

By the time I was ready for an internship, I had already fallen in love with traveling. And since summer was the only time I had to complete an internship, I decided to intern abroad!

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There are two main ways to intern abroad:

  1. First, you find the internship on your own and search for your living quarters later.

Pros- it will probably be cheaper to do this right off the bat. Obviously this will depend on where you choose to go, but if you can find a reasonably priced living situation close to your internship, it will most likely be cheaper than going through a school.

Cons –  you are left to do everything on your own, you’ll have no support or initial people to turn to in the place you choose to go.

2. Second, you go through a college program.

Pros – the school will help you round off your resume (or CV), send it to companies, and find the internship for you. Room and board is included and most schools will have outings included that are fully paid for. You’ll also have other people in the program you can meet and hang with while you’re abroad.

Con- it can be pricey depending on what country/program you choose.

I chose to go through a school program and learned this – interning abroad is harder than studying abroad. For college students, it’ll be harder to get approved and there will be MUCH fewer programs offered. Some of you, like me, will have to look beyond your school to gain an internship. Additionally, some of you may not have your program approved by the school – for most people in this case, I would say not to pick this program but for me, I didn’t need the school credit, only the internship.

True to their word, the school helped me find a few internship options. I picked one, and once I got to Dublin I would have an interview with the company. After gaining my internship, I read the handbook they gave us about what to expect in Dublin and basic rules and regulations of the college we’d be staying at in Dublin – UCD, University College Dublin.

(Below, the dorms at UCD)

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Getting Prepared 

I arrived in Dublin a day early and took a cab to The Clarence Hotel, which my father had booked for me entirely because Bono owns it.

A Note – taxis and buses are what you’ll take in Dublin. Uber is not a thing. You can use the Uber app, but all it will do it call a premiere taxi, which is code for $$$$

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The first afternoon took some adjustment. As someone with anxiety who was also hit by jet lag fairly quickly (due most likely to my ineptitude to sleep on planes), all I noticed were the differences between Ireland and the United States and whether or not Dublin lived up to my expectations. I tried walking around the city, as I usually love to do when I first visit a new place, but all I felt was crushing anxiety. The more I kept pushing to stay out and “act normal,” the more uncomfortable I grew. Voices ran through my head saying that I should enjoy this experience – it won’t last forever – it took a lot to get here – etc.

I blamed myself for feeling this way, why can you not act normal? You love traveling, how is this any different? Walking around Dublin, feeling my new shoes cause my heels to erupt in blisters, I was doing what I loved most – traveling – but I wasn’t happy.

(Below, the streets of Dublin)

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to culture shock.

Culture shock is an uncomfortable sensation or state of confusion and helplessness one can feel when experiencing a new country or culture for the first time. It is extremely common and effects everyone differently. I myself had never fully felt it before, in Korea I was with another group of students right away and our excitement overwhelmed any nervousness. In other traveling situations I was always with family or friends and was so comfortable with them, any unease melted away.

Yes, it can happen in Ireland, a country that is very similar to the US in many ways. Culture shock can happen anywhere.

I had seen it firsthand in my sister before when she came to visit me in Korea. She had been so excited to visit and had brushed up on Kdramas and Kpop for months beforehand, but upon seeing how different Korea was, she experienced culture shock – which lasted for two days. Her’s was more intense, but was similar to mine in a general feeling of disquiet, being uncomfortable alone, and wanting to not move around much.

I soon realized – IT’S OK. It’s ok to take some alone time and do what makes you comfortable. It’s ok to head back to the hotel and eat dinner in the small, quiet part of the dining room and go back upstairs to relax with some Netflix. Why stress about your first night in Dublin when the trip is about your overall experience in Ireland?

The next day I taxied to UCD and got my room assignment and our welcome package. The days after were filled with roommate meetings and fun activities for the incoming class to play and get acquainted with Irish culture. There was Irish dancing + lessons, tea parties, an instruction on how to play Gaelic sports (link below), and even an extended trip out to Wicklow county (link below)!

For Gaelic Sports – https://thegeekygallivant.com/2018/06/02/ireland-gaelic-games/

For Wicklow – https://thegeekygallivant.com/2018/06/13/ireland-sightseeing-in-wicklow-county/

(Below, our Irish tea party!)

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The last piece of the puzzle was having my interview with the company. Although I had technically “gotten” the internship, it was a real interview. If they had decided they didn’t like me or think they could use me, they would’ve passed and taken away the offer. We were informed this had happened before, but there was always a Plan B in those situations.

The meeting was quick, I was accepted and my internship began the next week!

 

The Internship

The internship part of your stay in Ireland will probably be the part you remember least, because for many people it follows a similar pattern day by day. However, even if it isn’t very memorable, it is VERY important for your future career and your personal growth.

During the weekdays in Dublin, 8:30 – 10:30 am is a traffic nightmare so be ready to leave early. You’ll either be walking, biking, or taking the bus. The bus is what most people take and there are stops everywhere to catch one, there’s even multiple apps you can download for times and other things.

(Warning – the buses get CLOSE, but you should still ride top floor!)

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Something that fascinates me about Ireland is that everything seems to run an hour behind what it does in the US. In the States it’s a 9-5 situation, in Ireland it’s more like a 10-5ish situation. Everyone’s really lax with time in Dublin, but they won’t expect you to be as a foreigner, so if they say show up at 10, show up at 10 and keep showing up on time even if others don’t show up till later. But if you ever run late, don’t freak out because there’s a very small chance it’ll be a big deal.

Tip! – The bus can be expensive so I recommend getting a student card and loading it for a month so you never have to worry about it. Otherwise, you’ll need exact change for every trip.

(Below, my Dad standing in front of a sightseeing bus)

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I worked at a media company, so my day may be different than other interns, but here is a breakdown:

My Day at a Media Company

10:00 – arrive at work.

10:15 – get an email of work to do for the day or start up what I had left to finish from the day before.

10:15 – 12:30/1ish – work

12:30/1ish – a bit before 2 – lunch, the other interns and I would eat out (thank you Subway), but the native Irish people usually brought lunch from home.

2:00 – 5ish – work, if done with work and the boss is gone on meetings, relax and do other things I hadn’t gotten around to yet or work on my Photoshop or drawing skills.

5ish – leave for UCD

(Below, my usual lunch spot)

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That kind of day was most common for me. I worked on scripts, did a bit of social media for clients, edited pictures, made business cards, made promos for clients, and did other small things that the office needed to have done. For instance, it took me almost a week to download new videos onto the website because my laptop was so old.

A Note – bring your own laptop. Some places, like mine, will not have computers for you and if your work requires them, it may be a problem.

Many Irish companies are pretty casual in most regards. Mainly with time, with dress, and with little things like bringing snacks to your desk. My dress attire was business casual, which usually meant dark jeans, a nice shirt, and tall boots paired with a nice jacket. Even in this there was some leniency, with some girls wearing sneakers and boys wearing T-shirts. Irish summers are usually not too hot, but I came during a heat wave and because of that, my boss eventually allowed us to wear shorts to deal with the heat and lack of air conditioning.

(Below, a typical outfit I would wear to work – minus the headband ear warmer)

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Also, apparently it’s pretty common to have tea time during business hours, my company didn’t really do that but I would often get up and take stretching breaks in a different room and never heard a complaint about time missed.

Although I haven’t checked to see if all of my work has been posted and how much of it has been edited or not used, I know that some of my work is out there forever and that I made an impact. And that is something truly special.

 

Wrapping Up

Most companies that hire foreign interns don’t do it to have yet another person for office busywork, they do it for your specific set of skills. I knew people that worked in hospitals, labs, court rooms, newspapers, and city parks. There’s a huge variety of roles you can fill and each will help you further along your career path.

During your time interning in Ireland, you’ll be nervous, make mistakes, and will probably feel awkward working in an unfamiliar place. However, so will everyone else! That’s what comes with working in a foreign country (or just working in general), and in addition to those more awkward moments, you’ll have great moments with friends, crazy unforgettable nights, and life-changing experiences roaming around the Irish countryside!

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