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This guest blog from Aila talks about her experiences of working abroad in Germany as part of her placement year as an International Sales and Marketing intern. 

Welcome to my international placement year blog. My name is Aila and I am a level 5 student, who is studying International Business studies (now BA (Hons) International Business and Management) at Bournemouth University. I chose Bournemouth University for my studies due to their business school and the opportunities that the university had to offer.

I decided to undertake my placement year abroad due to having taken part in an exchange semester previously in Helsinki. I believe this experience has allowed me to enhance my career aspects as I now have international contacts who are like minded in the same field as myself.

I originally secured my interview at BEMBEL-WITH-CARE through a personal contact. I chose to accept this role as I know the company is a huge success in Germany with a small team. Being part of a small team, I knew I would get a more personal and full experience with the brand and get to enhance my overall understanding of the organisation.

I travelled to Germany on September 10th 2021 from London and was apprehensive about the longer period away from home as the pandemic was still restricting certain movements. When I arrived, I stayed in Frankfurt which is 40 minutes away from Weinheim where I would be residing for the period of my Placement.

I then travelled to Weinheim where my mentor met me and took me to my accommodation for the year. I was fortunate enough to secure an apartment which was fully furnished and for one person.

Working life was a shock to adjust to in the beginning as I was working 40 hours a week which I had never done before. I very quickly got into the swing of things as all my colleagues were extremely welcoming which made it so much easier to settle into working life.

My working life has been more than what I could have hoped to experience. I have been fortunate enough to travel to Cologne for a trade fair which was one of the highlights of my placement, as the trade fair Anuga is the no.1 trade fair for fine food and drinks in the world. I have also travelled to Switzerland twice for meetings with our distributors. I was lucky enough to visit Belgium and Luxembourg for strategy planning meetings which brought me a broader insight into how to implement our product into different cultures.

Initially my role was an International Sales and Marketing Intern, this however changed to International Sales Assistant within my first few weeks at the company. As I settled into work life, I quickly saw that my interests were more international sales rather than marketing. My traineeship has huge relevance to my studies as I am learning another international market and how business competencies differ here to the UK and how I am able to implement this into my further studies in international business.

The key points I have taken away from this experience is that I now know myself better in a personal and professional environment and know that I am more capable of going for new experiences and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

The placement year funding helped to support me for probably 10% in total of my overall costs, due to my rent being a lot higher than first anticipated.

The advice I would give myself at the start of the experience knowing what I do now is to always immerse yourself in every possible activity and to not be worried about trying things out of your comfort zone which is something I would advise students considering working abroad.

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to not only grow professionally but also personally and I think having been exposed to new cultures has given me a passion of understanding and immersing myself into all new challenges.

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