By Rachel Bronson, ISA Student Services Advisor
The ISA Brussels Program offers a study + internship combo option. You are able to enroll in an internship course through the host university, Vesalius College while still taking courses towards your degree.
Have you ever thought about having an internship while studying abroad?
When I studied abroad with ISA, I knew I wanted an internship component along with a class component. When I was preparing for my ISA Brussels Program, I decided to apply for an internship through the host university, Vesalius College. I began the process of looking through the internship catalog provided and applied for my top three choices, wrote my cover letters and crossed my fingers. When I was not chosen for one of my top choice internships (international relations/political science internships), I was given the option to interview for a communications internship at the British School of Brussels (BSB). As it turned out, that internship was my favorite part of my entire study abroad experience! Having an internship while studying abroad in Brussels was truly a life changing experience that opened my eyes to different challenges, and I was glad I took the challenging leap to explore an internship in a subject matter outside of my comfort zone.
The people you meet
My life as a Community Office Intern was very different than anything I had been studying in a classroom. I was able to gain political science knowledge due to the organizations represented at BSB by the students such as the European Union and NATO. I had the opportunity to work with several different departments within the school, as well as with some of the students. The variety of jobs I was able to do enhanced my resume. Working with everyone opened my eyes to a path in life, working in International Education. The office I worked in was the Community Office for BSB and the office welcomed me into their family with open arms! It was a very close-knit group of people who worked really well together. I felt like I could talk to them about anything going on with my study abroad experience or with the city of Brussels. They were all from different locations across Europe and had experienced the same feelings of newness and were able to understand and help me through anything during my four months living in Brussels. Through my internship, I was also able to make friends with locals that were close to my age. Being able to hang out with them and see how they lived in Brussels opened my eyes to what living there was truly like!
I got to be a part of several different projects that were going on at BSB. I was given the opportunity to create a display board indicating the partnership that the British School has with the European Summer Games and Belgian Special Olympics. It was really amazing to be able to learn about the sponsorship of individual athletes and keep track of their results throughout the games. The painstaking efforts to get the poster exactly the way I wanted it were well worth the opportunity to highlight such an amazing partnership with the Belgian Special Olympics and to be able to highlight the fantastic participants in the European Summer Games. Another great aspect of my internship was assisting the group of students selected to work with the Community Office on different activities. We would work with organizing parking for events, serving lunch during board of directors meetings, setting up and working information fairs for clubs and sports teams on campus, and work the concession stand during school productions. Working alongside the students was a great way to talk with them about living in Belgium as a young adult. Not all of them were from Belgium, several were transplants like I was. It was a great opportunity to share our stories and make new friends!
Expand Your Experience!
I opened up my heart and mind to allowing my internship to affect and enhance my abroad experience. Having an internship while studying abroad in Belgium opened me up to a side of Brussels that I wouldn’t have had the chance to experience otherwise. Not only was it a great opportunity and a resume builder, but I also truly enjoyed the work I was doing and being around all of the people that were introduced to my life because of the British School of Brussels.
I willingly gave up traveling on some weekends to spend time with people I met through BSB. It was a great experience to see everyone in a non-work element. I got the opportunity to see the remarkable city of Brussels with locals who wanted to show me “their” Brussels! I was able to build stronger connections by branching out of the work environment, connections that will last a lifetime. In the end, I did not see it as giving up my weekends of traveling but participating in a different experience that was just as fantastic as traveling!
Hanging out with the locals and working in a local environment gave me a new perspective on the Belgian culture. Not only did I grow professionally from my internship experience, I grew as a person. I learned to not get discouraged when I am not chosen for my first choice, whether this be in an internship or a job down the road. When one door closes, another one opens and it just may be the perfect fit for you! Looking back on my experience, I do not know what I would have done without all of the people I had the chance to meet. Choosing to participate in an ISA program that offered a study + internship combination was one of the best choices I made while in college!
Learn more about doing a study + internship combination program by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org!