Adapting to an International Internship

This semester I am interning with Advice RegTech, which is a financial compliance service provider seeking to aid financial advice firms in efficiently and effectively complying with government regulation.  Going into this internship engagement, I was not quite sure what to expect – after hearing stories from friends, I wasn’t sure whether I would be fetching coffee, twiddling my thumbs in an office, or working on market research.  However, I was optimistic that my internship would provide real value, since Advice RegTech is a startup with a small team, and during my interview I was informed I would be working in the same room as the CEO daily.  So far, I am enjoying my internship for a number of reasons.  Like I mentioned, I am working in close proximity to knowledgeable members of the firm who are all eager to see me succeed.  I have been given quite a few important responsibilities such as writing an entire employee handbook, handling a number of accounting tasks, and performing research for the firm.  If anything, I actually ended up having way more responsibility than I would have guessed.  Few difficulties have arisen, if anything, having so much responsibility and freedom has left me a little confused as to how to complete a task since there are no step by step instructions.  Something else I really enjoy about the internship is the company culture.  Every morning, the entire Advice RegTech staff gathers together and has a short meeting reflecting on the previous day’s experience.  Each employee takes their turn dictating what work they performed yesterday, what issues they had performing that work, and what work they plan on accomplishing today.  Anytime there is an issue, the employee shares the process they used to solve the problem, or asks for ideas if the problem is still persisting.  By reflecting on issues that had already been solved, employees are able to better assist each other in completing their work.  If I were to give some advice to other students who might be transitioning into an international internship, I would say there are a few things you can do to ease the transition.  Firstly, having an open mind is very important, as your expectations for the experience may differ significantly from reality.  Having an open mind about workplace differences between your host country and home country can have great results – for example, Australia’s laid back work culture makes it easy to want to go to work every day.  In addition, as an international student you are bound to have misunderstandings when communicating between cultures.  It’s important to ask questions and keep a positive outlook so you can learn great intercultural communication skills.  One great example from my internship is when I was asked to do research on the Australian organization ESIC, but because of the different pronunciations for Australians and Americans, I accidentally did the research on another Australian organization, ASIC, instead.  So, make sure to ask questions if you need clarification as this is a big part of intercultural communication.  For the truly loyal fans I’ve attached a photo where you can try and guess what building I work in.