Indian colleges are all about internships
Cooperative internship in the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce
Preparation for the internship abroad
I discovered the job advertisement for my internship on the website of the International Office of the University of Potsdam. I really wanted to gain experience abroad before completing my degree, as I have not had any study visits abroad such as the Erasmus program or internships abroad in the course of my studies so far. In addition, it was important to me that my stay abroad is not only important for my personal but also for my professional growth and that I can use my course content and previous work experience profitably in practice. In addition, I have always wanted to go to India, because India is not only interesting culturally and touristic, but also of increasing economic relevance. Bangalore is also known as the “Silicon Valley of India” with its IT and start-up scene.
I compiled my application documents according to the criteria of the host institution and sent them to the International Office of the University of Potsdam via email. After checking my documents, the International Office forwarded them to the guest institution. The positive feedback was only a few days in coming and was communicated to me by the case worker at the International Office. My host institution then contacted me directly via email. In direct communication, two potential accommodations were suggested to me and the internship contract was sent.
The internship contract contained clauses on contract duration, field of activity, working hours, vacation, travel, illness, insurance, confidentiality agreement, copyright and contract termination
Financing the internship abroad
I was made aware of the PROMOS scholarship both through my own research and through my case worker at the International Office of the University of Potsdam. When preparing the application documents, I received support from both the International Office and the Career Service of the University of Potsdam. Of course, I prepared the application myself and even took a DAAD placement test for English at the Center for Languages at the Humboldt University in Berlin. In addition to the application documents, an online form also had to be completed.
The remuneration for my internship was not particularly high, but it did cover my monthly expenses for food and drinks, as both are relatively affordable in India. The PROMOS scholarship helped me fund a large part of my internship. Furthermore, I was able to fall back on savings and was also supported by my parents. If you work online (telework), you can theoretically make this out from India, but you should have this approved beforehand by the host institution and the scholarship committee.
Stay in the host country
Fortunately, I was spared the search for an apartment, as I received recommendations from my host institution. You should definitely ask the host institution for recommendations, as the employees are familiar with the local area and may already have contacts. Some institutions even have specific inns to accommodate their expats. I did this too. You should also ask how expensive a room / apartment is on average, as the price in India is usually on a negotiation basis and the landlords like to charge a price that is too high, which you have to negotiate down vehemently. I looked at pictures of the apartment and transferred the first month's rent online and received a confirmation for this. But you can certainly also ask that you only pay when you arrive and see that everything is in order. Attention: Many inns do not want overnight visits, especially not from the opposite sex and when you are not engaged. India is a conservative country.
The cost of living in India is manageable, although this varies greatly. Big cities like Bangalore and especially Mumbai move, depending on where you live, to go shopping and the price of food is the same as in Germany. But there are usually many good and cheap alternatives, such as street food, Indian snack kitchens and shared apartments, if you are not living in the most expensive residential area.
Public transport varies greatly. Buses usually have no door, are overcrowded and make slow progress in the traffic chaos of Bangalore. But they are incredibly cheap. In most large cities (e.g. Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai), however, there is a state-of-the-art metro system that is unparalleled in Germany. The metro is super clean, air-conditioned and works on the chip card system like in London and Paris. However, the metro can also be very full at rush hour and the route network is still being expanded in many cities. Private taxi services such as Ola and Uber, which can be conveniently booked via the app on the smartphone, are also very cheap. Here you pay less than the entry-level price in German taxis for a full 20-minute journey. However, the road traffic is chaotic and the smog is sometimes strong and requires a lot of patience and caution as well as breathing protection in some cities (e.g. New Delhi).
The banking business in India has its pitfalls, as the machines are often only stocked with a certain denomination of bills, often do not work and often do not recognize German credit and debit cards. It is recommended to visit the large Indian (e.g. State Bank of India, SBI) and international (e.g. HSBC) banks, as these usually work smoothly. The security man at the cash machine (ATM) also often knows whether the machine works with an international credit card and which denominations are being paid out. In a pinch, he recommends the next best bank.
The leisure activities in India are innumerable. Regardless of whether you want to look at temples, parks, churches, markets or palaces or want to eat very cheaply, go to the amusement park or to the cinema - the Indian cities can definitely keep up with German cities. The bar and club scene is relatively smaller and even non-existent in some cities in India. There are fitness studios, some of which are more expensive than in Germany and with poorer equipment. Depending on where you shop, shopping is just as expensive or much cheaper.
Otherwise, it is advisable to travel by bus or train at the weekend. India is a very large and diverse country in which there is so much to see, regardless of whether you are interested in architecture, culture, mountains, beaches or animals. Buses and trains are very cheap. In terms of price, flying is comparable to Germany / Europe, although there are also low-cost flight providers such as IndiGo or GoAir in India. Long-distance buses can be booked, for example, using the RedBus smartphone app. Here it is advisable to take a Sleeper with Air Conditioning (AC), especially on long night trips. Trains can be booked through Indian Railways - here, too, there is the Sleeper / AC option. The buses in particular are very comfortable and the trains are okay, but not comparable to the DB. Renting a car is only partially recommended due to the traffic and the condition of the roads and highways. In smaller tourist places, however, you can rent a scooter.
Free time and social contacts
If you are looking for contact with locals, you are definitely in the right place in Israel! Depending on your personal motivation, you can come into contact with Israelis fairly quickly and easily, and make connections easily. I found hospitality and openness towards foreigners who come to TLV to be very pronounced. During my stay, I was invited to Israelis' homes a few times, be it to cook together or to eat the Sabbath on Friday evening with the Israeli family. Although I mostly didn't know the families, one is never treated as a “stranger” here, but feels like part of the family right from the start. It is exciting to see how naturally one becomes part of the group by not being questioned as a foreigner. You just sit at the table, as if it were a matter of course. What could possibly be interpreted as disinterest in our circumstances is the simple and uncomplicated way in Israel to become part of the family without knowing each other for long. I was also able to gain valuable experience during visits to kibbutz. If you can, go to a kibbutz. A stay offers another exciting insight into the kibbutz movement. If you don't have friends who invite you to visit, overnight stays can also be booked over the Internet.
Israelis are incredibly helpful and happy to provide information by offering bus connections on their smartphones to those seeking help. Tel Aviv as a cosmopolitan city and known as the “Big Bubble” is hardly comparable to the rest of Israel. The motto “anything is possible” counts here. Tel Aviv offers space for people of different biographies. The city pulsates. What you are looking for can be found here. In addition to numerous sports offers, Tel Aviv offers many day tours as a starting point. Israel is incredibly small. Local public transport is very cheap, especially the bus goes to almost every city that is “worth seeing”. A one-hour bus ride to Jerusalem, for example, costs the equivalent of 4 euros.
When it comes to spending your free time in Tel Aviv, you have endless possibilities: In particular, the sea “in front of the door” offers space for all kinds of sporting activities. From (kite) surfing, swimming, jogging, beach volleyball to the matkot game, one of the Israelis' most popular ball games, and almost a “serious national sport” for Israelis. Many private tournaments are held on the beach on Saturdays. In addition to the noisy city, the 14 km long sandy beach, the bike path along the sea, the promenade and a lot of parks offer space for relaxation.
Tel Aviv attracts many young students, interns and workers from different parts of the world, and therefore also offers a variety of "get together" events in cafes, restaurants and bars. It's pretty easy to get information from social networking sites. There are weekly get-togethers (e.g. FB: Hebrew Happy Hour, Sprachcafé German-Hebrew), where you can practice the language with a tandem partner or simply exchange ideas. In addition, some educational trips (mostly day trips) to Palestine, to the occupied territories, are offered by NGOs in TLV. Those who want to deal with the Israel-Palestine conflict in more detail, or would like to gain a better insight, can book these tours over the Internet and visit cities such as Nablus or Hebron with a local guide.
Satisfaction with the internship abroad
At my host institution, I was supervised both organizationally by the program coordinator and professionally by a professor from the teaching staff. My direct supervisor had a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Psychology and my supervisor a PhD in Human Resources, which also ensured the psychological context. The cooperation with both of them went very well on a professional basis, on a personal basis we had minor differences, which, however, did not prevent us from working together professionally. I was always able to ask questions that I consider extremely important and always received understandable and unambiguous answers. My line manager has given me a lot of responsibility and also given me the opportunity to successfully implement my own work-related projects and provide my feedback. My supervisor was, in the truest sense of the word, a mentor who also gave me psychological advice.
In my internship I was able to pursue a wide range of tasks that can be assigned to industrial and organizational psychology and business administration. So I carried out an application and job interview training course in which I tried out together with the students how to write and compile application documents, how self-management can help you in the application process and how to master job interviews. Here we conducted training interviews based on the multi-modal interview by Heinz Schuler. Furthermore, I carried out a teaching training course that dealt with the cultural dimensions and differences between Germany and India. The model by Geert Hofstede was used for this. I also brought the students closer to the German work and organizational culture, both for start-ups and for traditional companies. In my external and internal marketing tasks, I was helped by principles of advertising psychology such as decision-making strategies and heuristics that I had learned during my studies. I operated both content management for the website (writing articles, texts, writing e-brochures, creating promo videos, layout changes in collaboration with the support team) as well as social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. I also had the pleasure of sitting in on job interview training for the director of a large consulting firm. I also supported my superiors in placing our students with German and Indian companies by writing to members of the Chamber of Commerce and contacts on LinkedIn and sending them brochures and information material I had written about the candidates and looking after the external HR managers when they were in ours Held office interviews. I also represented our training center and the Chamber of Commerce at ceremonies and conferences organized by federal ministries, scientific bodies and business groups. I also carried out certified translations from English into German for the Chamber of Commerce.
Through my internship, I have grown professionally insofar as I was able to give training and thus expand my previously modest experience in personnel development. Here I was able to refresh my knowledge from my studies through research and apply it in practice. I have been doing social media marketing on Instagram for several years for a Cologne customer, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were new to me as marketing channels and therefore particularly interesting, also because I was able to take into account decision-making strategies and heuristics from advertising psychology. In personnel selection, I was able to deepen my previous specialist knowledge thanks to the observation in application training. The placement process, which is typical for universities in India, was previously unfamiliar to me. It was therefore an enriching experience to play a supporting role here and to accompany the entire process from the mail to the company to the signing of the contract. Overall, I learned a lot about the internal processes at the training center and, in some cases, also in the Chamber of Commerce. The extent to which these can be transferred to other companies can be seen in the future. So far I had not worked with Windows Movie Maker or with the CRM platform Odoo, here I was able to learn new technical skills. It was also a new experience and challenge for me to be the contact person and, in some cases, a measure controller for the students at the training center.
I also had to get used to the Indian work culture first. Punctuality is not as important as in Germany, but you don't just drop the pen at the end of the day, but stay longer depending on the workload. Breaks are often very long and rarely at the same time as the day before. What is and what is not discussed at work is also different in Germany and India, although surprisingly more personal and family-related questions are asked than in traditional German companies. In India you are given a lot more responsibility than in Germany, which means that you grow incredibly quickly, even if it is sometimes a "leap into the deep end".
All in all, life in India was an enriching experience, as it is very different to Germany and teaches you to appreciate things about your country that you previously took for granted (regulated traffic, clean air, clean environment, functioning ATMs, liberal society) and, on the other hand, also sees where there is still upward potential in Germany, for example the metro is much more modern than in Germany and the possibilities in electronic payment are almost endless (GooglePay, PayTM, etc.). Driving services such as Ola and Uber are also much more developed and digitization is much more advanced in many areas. Overall, living in a different culture is a growth experience, as you learn new ways to communicate, take on other people's perspectives and thus gain intercultural competence, which is indispensable in our globalized world. It is also conducive to the expectation of self-efficacy, as one has much more confidence after a stay in India. For example, before my stay, I would never have thought that I would gain such security that I would have no problem living in other Asian or African countries for a while.
My application for recognition of the internship at the University of Potsdam has already been granted, but I still have to submit various documents after my internship has ended so that the work is recorded. I was only able to improve my English language skills to a limited extent during my stay, as I already speak English at C2 level. But of course you never stop learning and are constantly learning new terms, especially if you work in English, as in my internship, and also have mainly English-speaking contacts outside of work. The internship prepared me for my job insofar as I was able to gain new experience, especially in training, which I can expand if I go into personnel development. In addition, I was able to refresh knowledge that is always helpful in an office context (e.g. Excel) and deepen my experience in personnel selection.
Summary, final tips and helpful links
It was absolutely the right decision to go to Bangalore, India for my internship. I would do the same thing again if I was faced with the decision again. Of course, with today's experience and knowledge, I would be much better prepared and could find my way around a lot better. To some extent you are always naive and naive when you come to a foreign country, especially such a different culture, but over time you learn how to best interact with the locals, who to trust and who to not, how you negotiate (which can certainly also be useful for later salary negotiations and business deals) how best to get around, where best to stay and where not, how to behave without annoying the locals (e.g. not dressing too revealingly) and where to shop and much more. You learn to accept things from the new culture without losing yourself, but also to be able to set yourself apart by keeping things in your own culture that you value.
My internship helped me a lot on a professional level. Not only have I been able to apply and deepen my course content, but I have also learned a lot of new things, made many new contacts and gained valuable experience in a different work culture, which is in great demand on the German job market, especially among international companies. I believe that my international experience will also be given high credit for upcoming applications. It should too, because working in a different country, in a different job market, in a different language, in a different culture requires a certain amount of flexibility.
I am incredibly grateful to the International Office and the PROMOS Commission of the University of Potsdam, the DAAD and, last but not least, the Chamber of Commerce for this formative experience and opportunity for professional and personal growth. My time here will be with me for a long time. Even if it was only three months, I felt that I made quantum leaps in my development during these three months.
For a stay in India, I recommend the following apps and websites to other expats: Ola & Uber (taxi service), RedBus (long-distance bus booking), Swiggy & Zomato (restaurant reviews and food ordering), Splitwise (financial management on group travel) and Indian Railway (long-distance train booking) .
Subject: Psychology (Master)
Length of stay: 10/2018 - 12/2018
Internship provider: AHK India
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