I’m on an endless hunt for the perfect metaphor to describe the intern experience. In the meantime, I feel comfortable beginning this post by saying that, in short, interning is hard. So what happens when you find yourself accepting an internship in another country? With smart phones, computers, and WiFi out of the equation, things can get messy.
I interned at the Cannes Film Festival in France this month so I thought I’d devote this post to tips you should keep in mind before leaving good ol’ America, land of the iPhone and relatively fast wireless Internet.
- Map it. Do some research online and/or at a book store and familiarize yourself the best you can with the area in which you’ll be interning. (What’s a book store, you ask? It’s a place where…wait for it…they sell books! Like Amazon.com but in real life!) Where are the closest hospitals, grocery stores, and convenience stores? Where are the best restaurants and hotels located?
- “But wait, I won’t be able to use my iPhone?” Check with your supervisor before you leave to see how they plan to communicate while abroad. Will you have an international plan on your American smart phone? Will you buy a pay-as-you-go phone upon arrival? Will you rely on Internet access to communicate via email? Work out these details beforehand to clarify international rates and locate WiFi access while abroad. Many interns rely on things like Google Maps and other useful apps to get around, so make sure you locate the necessary resources to replace these apps if you won’t be able to use your American phone.
- “‘Merci beaucoup?’ Mercy buckets?! What?!” Culture yourself. If you’re headed to a country where English isn’t the primary language, learn basic conversation starters. In France, for example, locals appreciate when Americans at least attempt to speak in French. The intern who is going to get ahead is the one who can master basic conversations in the language spoken wherever you’ll be.
- Use your brain. Realistically speaking, there’ll be moments when you’re overwhelmed or frustrated or both. If this is the case, relax, think about what you would do if you were home, and seek out the closest similar option available to you wherever you are. For example, when I needed to find the equivalent of a Duane Reade while in France, I stood in front of one of the main streets and noticed several stores that had a green hospital sign hanging in front of them. Since Duane Reade is on every corner in New York, I walked closer to these corner stores and discovered that these, too, were convenience stores. Mission accomplished.
Oh. And, like, have fun. You’re interning in another country, which is objectively very, very awesome because interning is like…
Crap. I almost had it.
Jonathan Hurwitz is a senior in the Film & TV Production program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. After transferring to Tisch two years ago from the University of Michigan, Jonathan has held more than six internships on feature films and TV shows, including last summer’s Just Wright featuring Queen Latifah and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is currently an intern through Universal Pictures on the upcoming Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy movie Tower Heist. He writes about everything from happiness to Justin Bieber on his own blog and that Twitter thang.