"The internship course is a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience"

 

Headshot of alumnus Georgios Koukos

 
Georgios' Story

Overview

Programme and major: Global Studies, Political Science major
Cohort: 2017-2019
Name of the organization: Embassy of Greece in Sweden 
Country: Sweden

Why did you decide to do an internship?

Having to choose among very interesting elective courses, exchange studies and an internship was for sure a difficult task at hand. However, I eventually decided to go with the internship mainly because I was convinced that this opportunity would provide me with important working experience and give me the chance to familiarize myself with a working environment in which I am particularly interested in working in the future. Furthermore, I thought that through the internship I would gain invaluable new skills and practical insights on my field, but also, quiet importantly, would be able to put in practice the skills and the knowledge which I acquired during my studies. 

How did you find your internship?

I found the internship position at the Embassy of Greece in Sweden in a posting published online at the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic. 

What should students think about when they search and apply for internships?

My first and most important advice to aspiring interns would be not to lose their courage when they struggle to find a placement they desire. Securing an internship is not an easy task but requires a lot of time and great amounts of effort. However, at least from my own personal experience, I believe that it is definitely worth the hassle. It is nevertheless important for students who apply for internships to try finding an internship about which they are particularly thrilled and not fall into the common trap of accepting any given position just to fill an extra line on their CV. The internship course is a unique opportunity which has a lot to offer and students should be able to get the best out of it. 
Now, on a more practical note, I would recommend students to devote some time in order to write a good cover letter which catches the reader’s attention, as well as to be well-prepared and confident for the process of the interview. Such seemingly little things can make an important difference, as usually the competition for good placements is quite high.

Which of your responsibilities were the most interesting and challenging? Can you think of some task you did not enjoy doing while on internship?

The time I spent as an intern at the Cultural Department of the Embassy of Greece in Sweden was full of exciting but at the same time difficult and challenging tasks and responsibilities. During that time, I particularly enjoyed organizing and facilitating cultural events through which I got to meet inspiring and influential people from the cultural and political spheres from both Greece and Sweden. If I had to highlight a single task which I believed to be the most interesting, that would be my participation in several EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture) meetings, where representatives from Cultural Institutes and  Embassies of various EU countries would meet to discuss the joint organization of cultural events and projects all over Sweden. I especially enjoyed those meetings because they were a hands-on experience of how multilateral organizations work in practice. As a political science student I was very excited to find myself at several negotiation tables in which representatives of several different countries met to discuss policy and project management, even if the issues at hand concerned mainly matters of so-called ‘low politics’. 

Would you recommend students to do an internship? Why?

Yes, based on my own personal experience, I would definitely recommend students to do an internship. In my opinion the internship course is a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience of how an organization, agency or company functions. It provides students with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with a particular field, to gain useful new skills and knowledge, as well as to put in practice the ones they already possess.  Additionally, an internship certainly enlarges the prospects of finding a desired job in the future. Not only because it is another addition on one’s CV, but more importantly because it provides great networking opportunities and renders students more aware about the field and the qualities and the requirements they should meet in order to become a part of it in the future. To sum up, I consider that a good internship gives a glimpse of how life after university might look like for many of us and that’s why I believe that every student should try to do an internship. 

Is there anything else you would like to add that is not covered in the above questions?

I would like to point something out for the students that have already decided to go with the internship option. My advice to them would be to try not to forget that while they pursue the internship, they do not cease to parts of the academia. Although it is understandable to be enthusiastic and excited with the new tasks and responsibilities as a part of a company or organization, I would advise interns not to completely detach themselves from the university and try to keep following the developments in their respective scientific fields. That’s mainly why because, as we all know, the semester following the internship is dedicated to the writing of the Master’s Thesis, which in my view is the most important part of the entire Master’s programme, the peak of a student’s academic effort.