The conventional view on internships is that interns get the opportunity to learn certain industry-specific skills, and employees get the chance to make use of the work provided by the interns.
At Webamp, we have a much broader appreciation of what it means to onboard an intern, especially an international one.
Bringing an intern into the team means that both ends of the party introduce each other to new values, and, in the process, challenge certain mindsets and customs otherwise taken for granted — it’s not all about technical skills acquired or work produced.
There is so much that both the intern and the rest of the team can learn from each other.
We’ve had great success at Webamp with Danish interns before, and it has been great to see an array of people with an array of skills thriving in our company. However, international interns are a different ballpark. So, here at Webamp, we decided it was time to bring a new perspective and a renewed energy to the team. We did this through welcoming a half-Brazilian, half-Swedish, UK-raised content writing intern, Gabriella, last Friday.
We wanted to make sure she felt as welcomed and motivated as possible to begin working at our company, so we made sure to decorate her desk accordingly and call a team meeting where everyone got to be introduced.
Already on her first day, there was a visible shift in the way the office operated — a good kind of shift! We were all suddenly practicing our English skills, and this meant we were improving ourselves as a team and avoiding complacency.
We believe that one of the most dangerous things a company can experience is stagnation and too much fondness of staying within the comfort zone. Quite frankly, having an international intern in the team doesn’t allow you to stay in your comfort zone.
My mantra is freedom under responsibility, and constantly experimenting with your own boundaries; boundaries are not designed to be set in stone — they are dynamic and supposed to be challenged on a daily basis. This means actively seeking new and exciting challenges, and if this means bringing in a non-Danish speaking intern into an all Danish office, then let’s go for it! And that’s exactly what we did.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone doesn’t only apply to the Danish members of the office, but also to Gabriella. She’s learning Danish customs and even picking up on some Danish words here and there.
Imagine how far all of us will have progressed, and how much all of us will have learnt, by the end of the four-month internship!
At the end of the day, it’s about finding the right balance between adjusting your own company culture and teaching the new intern your own values. Bringing a non-Danish person into the team doesn’t just mean using more English. It’s also about being more culturally aware of your own customs — customs that we otherwise take for granted or assume are the norm.
For example, something so small as the habit of when to eat lunch has now been put into perspective with the addition of Gabriella. She pointed out that she’s never been in an environment where people go for lunch before 12, even 1 sometimes (here at Webamp, we must just work so hard we get hungry at the 11 o’clock-mark).
Now, it’s important to note, it’s not about changing our values or habits for someone else, it’s just about becoming more self-aware! Reflecting on yourself and your habits are necessary steps to becoming more open-minded and perceptive — traits which can only make your company stronger and more resilient.
So, welcome to the team, Gabriella!