Matteo did his internship in India for three months and is amazed at how Indians are genuinely interested in where you are from.
Is there any student out there who has not fantasized about doing an internship in a foreign country and learning a new culture? It all looks so exciting, especially when you read about Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and how their international experience turned out to be an impressive start in their career. This can be a reason enough why doing an internship abroad is a great option. I mused about that for a while before finalizing a program for an internship in India. I could have chosen the USA, the United Kingdom or Australia. Still, I preferred India because of its growing economy, ample career opportunities, extremely diversified culture, and a lower cost of living.
I preferred India because of its growing economy, ample career opportunities, extremely diversified culture, and a lower cost of living.
“I’m Mattéo, and I’m 19 years old travelling to India for my expat intern program.” This was my introduction to the gentleman sitting next to me in the flight. I arrived in Delhi during the hottest day of the history of the city – 48 degrees celsius. Feeling suffocated in the hot, polluted air and tired with jet leg, my first memory of India after coming out of the airport wasn’t pleasing. The first experience in a developing country and the tone was already set.
As I anticipated, India was a total change of spectacle in comparison with France. But I wasn’t disappointed! I acknowledge that the first week in India, all alone, was much more about surviving in unknown territory than a relaxing holiday. It took me about two weeks to start understanding the Indian system, which led me to learn three essential things.
First and foremost, the country at first glance is chaotic. However, when you look further, you can find it somewhat in order. India can be compared to the messy room that your mother wanted you to tidy up, and only you knew exactly where your stuff was (except this paper clip collection that you were sure it was next to the mini Eiffel Tower).
Then, the people are really welcoming. But it’s not like the French imposed kindness, where someone approaching you with a smile could possibly rob you. Indians are genuinely interested in where you are from, what you do and how your life looks like in general, particularly if you are European. Nevertheless, it can quickly turn into an intrusive examination if you are not used to it.
First and foremost, the country at first glance is chaotic. However, when you look further, you can find it somewhat in order.
Finally, you can’t change India. You may have arrived in the country with a lot of projects and expectations, but you’ll realize quite fast that you’ll have to revise your plans. Indeed, India has an entirely distinct philosophy, and it’s so deeply rooted in the country’s culture that you’ll have to embrace if you don’t want to turn your trip into a frustrating experience.
The younger we are, the easier it is to try a new culture, so I recommend taking an internship overseas early in your profession can enrich your perspective of the world, and master you those skills required later at your workplace. For example, In France, people prefer to stick to the point in conversations for the sake of clarity and efficiency. But in India, I also learned that being direct with co-workers is often considered rude and even condescending. And, that doesn’t take you very far if you need to collaborate with someone in your office.
And, you also create some fantastic memories along the way and foster a network with people Internationally. That said, good luck! Hoping that you can bring the best out of the internship both at work and beyond.