Student Testimonials: Reflections on an international internship
Name: Alicia Reuter, '10
Majors: German, Psycholinguistics, Management Studies
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Position Title: Museum Intern
Name of Company or Organization: Kreismuseum Wewelsburg
In two to three sentences, please describe what your internship entailed.
I did research in the museum's library on the history of Jehovah's Witnesses at the concentration camp (Wewelsburg was an SS-ideology center, which had a concentration camp during WWII), culminating in my giving a solo tour to an American Jehovah's Witness family and some British soldiers. I also translated tours orally from German to English, as well as translated some brochures and whatnot for use at the museum.
Which country(ies) did your work take you to?
How did you find your internship?
The German department at St. Olaf, through coordination with the University of Paderborn.
Why did you choose to intern abroad instead of domestically?
Why not? I intern domestically as well, but why not also intern abroad? I got credit for my major, my German improved dramatically, and I got some awesome experience.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work and live internationally?
General German skills were the main thing St. Olaf prepared me with. Anything else that really prepared me for the international experience was mostly from previous international experience (I've lived in Germany before), and just keeping my eyes open through life and work.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about interning internationally?
The language; no matter how fluent you are, it will still take a long time to adjust to living in a different language. It is also tricky trying to figure out how th hierarchy works, and what exactly is work-appropriate behavior, and who you are supposed to interact with/have lunch with/ask questions of/etc.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
I always knew I wanted to work at a museum, but it was in Wewelsburg, when I got a tour of their collections and archives, that I knew I wanted to go into collections management.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
Feeling comfortable in different cultures.
What advice would you offer other students interested in interning internationally?
Do it. If you don't already speak the language, then try to learn as much as possible, but if it's not feasible to get very far; don't stress it. Be open to learning the language, pick up what you can, and you'll be amazed at how much you learn. I really recommend going abroad for more than a semester, but that generally doesn't work with “internships” per se. Anyway, the language and culture are the most important part of an international experience, and you want to be as much of a sponge there as possible, because otherwise you'll regret missed opportunities.Back to student bio page>>