Sep 26

Internship Abroad: An interview in Berlin

Hey guys to give you a better look into my experience at my internship abroad I figured I’d share an interview that I made with another student studying abroad, Victoria Qiu!

Q: To start off introduce and tell me a little about yourselves, like where you two are from, what do you study and what made you choose to study abroad in Berlin?

N:  I’m Nathan Sangster and I’m from a small town called Yankton in the bottom corner of South Dakota. So basically, I’m right in the middle of the United States! I’m currently going into my junior year at South Dakota State University and I’m majoring in human biology and microbiology. I’m planning on attending med school after graduation but, I wanted to explore other options with a science background that didn’t directly involve the field of biology. This led me to Berlin with its really unique startup culture, plus I hadn’t really traveled a lot, so it was a great opportunity!

V: I’m Victoria and I’m a fourth-year student from the Los Angeles area, and I’m studying molecular biology with a minor in psychology at UC San Diego. I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe, and while looking through my study abroad options I came across this internship program in Berlin and thought it was the perfect fit for me. I love learning about WWII and the Cold War, and you can see the effects of both just by walking through Berlin.

Q: Rather than just taking classes abroad, you two decided to do internships in Germany. What company did you work at and what did you do there?

N: My internship was at labfolder, which develops the best electronic lab notebook or ELN, on the market. This software enables scientists to do research more effectively. Mostly I worked on reorganizing their helpdesk, created new FAQ’s with written and visual content, edited content, and eventually managed the social media of the company. 

V: I also worked for labfolder. During my internship, I designed a portal for customers from the Max Planck Society (MPG) to learn more about labfolder’s product, optimize website performance and designed and generated content for their recently acquired lab automation software, Laboperator (formerly cubuslab).

A picture of us and our supervisors at labfolder!

Q: Did you have any experience in this area before labfolder, as you both mentioned having a background in science?

N: Every job I had previously was in customer service and with having to get used to Berlin, I felt a bit like a fish out of water at first! The team at labfolder helped me learn a lot and, after a little teasing for being a stereotypical american, was more than welcoming. They understood that my background was in biology and that I didn’t have much experience in coding, design, or content writing. Since their customers are in the same field, my supervisors helped to guide me to use this as a strength. It really helped me understand what a customer would look for. 

V: Before this, the only job I ever had was working in a dining hall on campus. I’ve had some experience in chemistry and biology labs, which was what made me interested in labfolder. While I’ve had no previous experience working in marketing, I have experience coding and designing web pages. During my internship I learned how to apply my experience in multiple fields, even if they didn’t seem to directly relate to my position.

Q: Overall, what was your biggest takeaway from your time abroad at your internship?

N: Working at labfolder showed me how I could use my studies to excel in a setting vastly different from one that I’m used to. It’s definitely opened my eyes to other potential careers and has made me really appreciate how people from different cultures carry unique viewpoints. This really increased my confidence and helped me see how much can be achieved with a positive attitude. 

V: I learned that regardless of what you end up doing, you can always find a way to utilize the skills you learned. Interning abroad has broadened my perspective and helped me to better understand both my own culture and Germany’s culture.

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