... in Brussels, Belgium (Internship)
WU Bachelor student Polona Globocnik completed an internship at Copa Cogeca in Brussels, Belgium. In this interview, she tells us about her experiences and the impressions gained in Belgium's capital. Polona Globocnik received financial support for her three-month internship through an Erasmus+ grant for internships abroad.
How did you experience the city of Brussels and your time there?
Brussels is an international city where it was never boring, at least before Corona. I have always liked the city and was very happy to be able to spend a lot of time there. Due to the pandemic, travel and meeting new people was limited, but I still explored Brussels and the surrounding area and also went to the seaside. My work colleagues were from different countries and worked in various fields, so this experience alone was very interesting. I was able to learn a lot.
How did you find out about the internship and what was the application process like?
I already knew the organization for which I was applying beforehand and had wished for some time to be able to gain experience there. I finally applied on my own initiative. I believe that many organizations and companies do not advertise internships. However, this should not discourage anyone, as they are usually happy to accept students for an internship anyway, especially if it is through Erasmus+.
What do you wish you had known before applying for an internship abroad?
Since my internship took place during Corona, I didn't know until the end if it was actually going to happen or not. That was a bit awkward, but given the circumstances, that's probably how everyone felt. Otherwise, I found the process around the internship to be very well organized and transparent on part of WU. I felt well looked after by the International Office.
Where and for how long did you do your internship? What were your tasks?
I did my internship in Brussels. Initially, two months were planned, but since I liked it there, I extended the internship for three more weeks. The organization I worked for deals with the representation of farmers before EU institutions. During my internship I primarily worked on two topics that were current at the time and tried to summarize the situation in EU member states and in European politics. Thereby, I had the opportunity - at least online - to discuss with experts from different organizations from Brussels and the EU member states. Thus, gained many new insights and met new people. At the end of my internship, I was offered a job and since November I am actually employed in Brussels.
How was it to work in another country? Were you able to cover your living expenses abroad with the Erasmus+ grant/internship salary?
Before starting the internship, I was worried that my language skills would not be sufficient. I had little previous work experience, but was well surprised by the relaxed and friendly atmosphere in my team. The first days in another country at a job where you don't know anyone may not be easy, but I was able to meet many new people and thus develop new perspectives that enriched me. However, I am still convinced that my Erasmus internship was the best thing I could have done at the time. Unfortunately, the Erasmus+ scholarship didn't cover all costs, because the rents and living costs in Brussels are comparatively high. Nevertheless, it was worth it to use some savings for the experience I gained.
Do you feel that this experience will help you in your future career and why? What positive experiences will you look back on?
As I mentioned, I was offered a job at Copa Cogeca during the internship and have been employed there ever since. I never thought it could happen so quickly and especially that it would happen before I graduate.
I think that with the help of Erasmus+, you get the opportunity to immerse yourself in organizations but also in fields that you wouldn't work on otherwise. The internship abroad it is a good option to find out what you are interested in and how you will be perceived by an employer. For me, the experience was positive because I have wanted to work at Copa Cogeca for a long time and I doubt it would have been possible without Erasmus+.
I believe that the experience has not only helped me for my career, but has also shaped me as a person and helped me to acquire new valuable knowledge.
Content by Polona Globocnik. Thank you very much!