So, first of all, quick introduction. My name is Claire, and I am a business and language student from Brest, France. Last semester, I got the chance to complete a 5 months traineeship in the International Services of Kotkantie campus. I arrived in Oulu mid-January, and went home mid-June. I now want to ask myself whether this internship was a good experience or I just wasted my time over the past four months.
Claire 1: So, what did you do during this internship?
Claire 2: Well, I have been working with tutoring. I helped recruiting some students who are eager to welcome next year’s foreign students, and worked on the guides that foreign students are provided with before they come to Oulu so that they can get familiar with the city and campus life. Also, I have been helping my colleagues planning and implementing the International Teacher Exchange Week and the International Staff Training Week (by the way, if you have never heard of or taken part in those, it may be worth checking next year… J). I have also gotten the chance to touch upon many other things, and learnt a lot just by talking with my colleagues.
Claire 1: Hum that sounds like fun! Now, what about challenges?
Claire 2: It was fun, yes! Challenges? My first challenge was the language. I tried learning Finnish before I came, but, really, no matter what books and websites say, there is no way you can become fluent in a language in “15 minutes per day during 3 months”. But everyone here was great on that part. All of the people I worked with would use English with me, even those who are not used to speaking the language! I really appreciated that! And little by little, I am getting better. I now half of the time have an idea of the topic my colleagues are discussing. The second biggest challenge was the cultural differences. For instance, in France, people are usually more formal and less straightforward than in Finland. I really like how “easy” things are here, but it is also quite difficult for me. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, I feel like my emails are a bit disrespectful towards the receiver, but when I ask my colleagues to check, they say it is fine, so I trust them. Overall, I think it is just a matter of adapting to new things.
Claire 1: What was the best aspect of your internship?
Claire 2: If you want only one, definitely my colleagues! They are really nice, helpful, welcoming… in other words, great! As I said, I had to adapt in the beginning, but they were understanding and really supportive in many ways. And, speaking of adaptation, I was not the only one for whom it was necessary, it applies to them as well! It is probably not that easy to have to work with a person who knows pretty much nothing about your work! But then again, they were great! They were always available to answer questions if necessary, but they also trusted me and let me work freely. I have learnt a lot from them and I made great memories thanks to them.
Claire 1: So, success or waste of time?
Claire 2: That’s an easy one… success for sure! I have learnt so many things, made great memories, met amazing people, etc., what more can you wish for?
Claire 1: Nothing, I guess. Any advice for people who are interested in being/welcoming a trainee?
Claire 2: For a future trainee, first of all, you need to figure out what it is that you enjoy doing and want to learn. Then you have to be ready to face challenges. But, when that happens, you should ask questions, or ask for help… definitely the best way to learn! And, last but not least, you need great colleagues! As for welcoming a trainee, I am probably not the best person to answer that question…