Written by Guest blogger
This is a guest blogger post by current student Natalia Ceballos, studying BA (Hons) Media Production.
Hi! My name is Natalia and I recently completed a placement abroad at InterNations GmbH as a Public Relations Intern.
First of all, if I had to describe the placement search using three words, I would say: demanding, rewarding, and reshaping. It demands a great deal of your time, effort, and a lot of courage and persistence as well. However, these efforts pay off when you get feedback from potential employers, whether the response is positive or negative. Progress is progress, after all! During the process of applying for placements I also noticed that it had reshaped my views, soft skills, expectations, etc. When you start applying, you’ll understand how much of an intense experience this is!
Bournemouth University definitely made this process easier, though. I was able to go to my placement advisor Andy Guard for a CV and cover letter revision so they’d be up for standards, something I’ll always be thankful for because otherwise I wouldn’t be telling this story at all. The career team at BU was also very helpful answering my endless questions, and MyCareerHub proved to be the most useful portal to find placements — that’s where I found the ad for the placement I landed!
Now, before I saw this ad I’d never thought of going abroad for my placement year, even less thought of Germany for that. In fact, as a Spanish student at BU, I was already studying abroad! However, I was never closed off to the idea, and after some thought I realised this would be a great opportunity to grow personally. Moreover, the role was just what I was going after, so I applied without hesitation for this position in Munich.
A Public Relations Intern
If I could describe my placement in three words, it would be challenging, unpredictable and worthwhile. The company I was working at, InterNations, offers a community for people with a global outlook where they can socialize and attend events locally. As this company has such an international mission, its own team couldn’t be less — it was as international as it can possibly be. With people from all continents in our office in Munich, it was a delight to experience such a diverse workplace!
The most interesting part of my placement was communicating with journalists and freelancers who’d then publish for big media outlets. Funnily, that was the most challenging task for me as well! I would say the most enjoyable aspect of my placement was being able to learn something new every day with such a great team. Apart from the tasks related to public relations, we were also in charge of the internal communication of the company, which was challenging due to such a sensitive situation but a great opportunity to learn a lot. However, what gave most satisfaction was being able to write a few blog posts and magazine articles about different topics that were published in different InterNations communication channels.
Regarding the pandemic, it didn’t affect my placement in a negative way. When the lockdown was imposed in Bavaria, the region where Munich is in Germany, our company was set to work remotely. Even though this could turn into a tricky situation, our team worked as effectively through frequent video calls. This way, we managed to keep up the rhythm we previously had in the office. We continued to work from home until June, when we could slowly come back to the office in planned slots and with certain safety measures in place. However, like everywhere else in the world, it’s uncertain when things will totally go back to normal.
Reflection and Advice
If there’s something I’ve learnt during my placement is that time is the most important thing, and how we manage it is crucial. It is also important to maintain a good work ethic and a positive attitude, mostly when dealing with issues at work.
Two tips I would give future placement students are the following. First, be humble. This will be a learning experience rather than a showcase of your talents, so expect to get things wrong the first time around, and be willing to accept constructive criticism. My second advice is for you take it easy and enjoy. This is something I wished someone had told me before I started my placement because I was shaking like a leaf. Sometimes, we want to do the best we can the first day, but that isn’t realistic. Just trust the process; work hard, and you’ll be fine. Plus, your colleagues will know that you’re doing it the best you can, and they won’t judge you as much as you think!
During these ten months of internship, the International Mobility Team supported me greatly with guidance regarding the Erasmus work abroad funding, and managing the situation very well when the pandemic happened. My placement advisor, Vianna, had two video calls with me. In these calls, we discussed what I was getting out of my placement and how I could proceed in the future regarding my career.
My course had also prepared me for this experience with the Client and Audience unit in second year, where we had to create a campaign for a real local client. This experience definitely helped me develop my communication skills not only within the team, but also externally with the client. I was also able to create a unique while realistic product with a defined audience and purpose. This was very useful in my placement because when we got press requests from journalists, we had to be creative and offer them relevant information they could use.
I’m very grateful for having been able to work at InterNations because it made me grow professionally and personally in many ways, and I learned that I’m capable of doing a lot more that I thought I would. I think I have become more independent and open-minded now that I have lived abroad in a country with a culture that’s slightly different from the ones in the United Kingdom and Spain. Professionally, it has given me the insight and perspective I need to develop my career in the near future, plus clarity regarding on the kind of role I would like to pursue after I graduate.
• What has it been like having Natalia on the team?
“Working with Natalia was always great. She has not only a strong work ethic but is also a highly motivated and very nice person to be around.”
• What was their greatest contribution? What were their strengths?
“Natalia is a strong team player. She would always make sure that everyone in the team would feel comfortable and that a task or bigger project is mastered together.”
• What do you think has been the most noticeable outcome about this experience?
“I am very impressed with Natalia’s personal development over the past months. When started the internship, she was rather calm and although she had good ideas, she would not voice them in meetings. Now she is much more confident, and it was great to see how she became more proactive each day.”
•What do you think students should focus on when applying for a placement?
“Focus on your motivation and why you’d like to spend your placement in this specific company. Being students, most applicants don’t have any relevant work experience. This makes it even more important to show that you did your research and really want to work and learn in this company. At least, this is what I am looking for, when going through applications.”
• How did the pandemic impact the company and the team, and how did they react to that?
“Since March, the full company has been working remotely. For many members of the Corporate Communications Team this was the first time working from home for a longer period, or even at all. Despite that, the transition was quite smooth and we continued to work well as a team. We started to have daily catch-ups, which helped to stay up-to-date but also to keep in touch on a personal level.”
More Information about InterNations
With more than 4 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations is the largest global community and a source of information for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking and socializing, both online and face to face. At around 6,000 events and activities per month, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include discussion forums and helpful articles with personal expat experiences, tips, and information about life abroad.
Find out more about studying BA (Hons) Media Production.