My experience as an AIESEC intern

Have you ever traveled for a holiday and said to yourself “I can see myself living here one day?” I know I certainly haven’t!

Having had a very limited travel experience, this would never cross my mind. I left my home country “Morocco” five years ago to undertake my higher studies in England and that was the first and only country I visit. Back then this was such a huge step for me, never knew it would become a habit.

During my university life, I learned to be open to change, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the globe, learn about their culture, backgrounds, and beliefs. But I always knew this chapter will end after graduation. What about a professional experience abroad?

After living in London for 4 years, moving to a new country and starting over was a frightening idea; yet extremely tempting I must admit. A second chance of endless opportunities, a new culture to discover, places to visit, people to meet, and undoubtedly a lot to learn.

Why I chose AIESEC for my internship?

It’s simple, REPUTATION! I’ve heard of AIESEC programs for years but the only reason that made me consider it was hearing about my friends’ experiences. Throughout the years I heard about their journeys abroad, the people they met, the knowledge exchange and how this changed their lives forever.
I knew I wanted to go for a GT program “Global Talent” after finishing my degree, one of AIESEC’s three programs that allows young graduates to go for an internship in a country of their choice. Deciding on the program was only the first step, what about the country? Where would my journey begin?

After applying to several opportunities and getting accepted in a few of them I had to make that life-changing decision and choose one country out of four. Too many questions came to my mind at once; Which one? How? Why? I was overwhelmed and scared. But the moment I saw Greece on that list the answer was right in front of me.

Why Greece?

My answer to this question has always been “Why not?”. Greece, a place many call paradise. Well, I couldn’t agree more. Visiting the country was definitely on my to-do list. The sun, sand and ethereal beaches, the warm friendly people and the mouth-watering food.

However, moving to a new country has its challenges, a different language, different social codes, and traditions. It requires a huge amount of flexibility as you need to accommodate yourself to the change and be ready to face any obstacle that may come your way.

I was ready to discover my new life in this amazing country but I wasn’t so sure about what to expect from working here. I had my doubts and it was finally time to face them.

Working in Greece

After landing in Athens and spending the first couple of weeks enjoying the sun and exploring the city, it was time for my first day at work, I was about to start my first full-time job after graduating. My stress level was over the top but at the same time, I was so excited to finally discover this company I read so much about “adaplo”!

adaplo is an automated solution for e-commerce stores, it’s main mission is to empower small e-stores and provide them with the necessary tools to compete with giants in the international market such as Amazon and Walmart.

Yes! I did my homework beforehand and I was very impressed with what they managed to achieve in such a short time. But it was only after I joined that I realized their passion and true love for tech, the team is highly committed to fulfilling the company’s vision and uses its full expertise to make a change in the advertising world. I was inspired!

Once again, this was like nothing I could imagine. From the very first day, I was part of the team. I was warmly welcomed by my boss and colleagues and being the only non-Greek member which was my biggest fear immediately vanished, the language was never an obstacle either as everyone spoke English.

During my three months working at “adaplo” so far, I’ve never felt like an intern. I was introduced to the activity as soon as I joined and by the first month, I already had my targets and share of responsibility. This has been extremely challenging especially as a young graduate, the pressure to prove myself and the fear to fail was inevitable but my boss whom I’d rather refer to as my mentor has always given me freedom to make mistakes and space to grow, he trusted me at times I doubted myself and this helped bring the best of me.

The work environment inside “adaplo” on the other hand is very positive, the flowing energy drives performance and inspires creativity. The effective teamwork and spirit strongly helped ease my integration and the constant intellectual exchange strengthened my knowledge and enhanced my skills. I’m very grateful for this opportunity, and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start. After all, it appears that “adaplo” doesn’t only empower its clients but also its employees!

This is just the beginning

Like most people, I had a general idea about this country and absolutely no idea about working in it, but the reality exceeded by far my expectations.

Obviously, it wasn’t a piece of cake, I had my share of challenges and difficulties but overcoming them is what made me stronger. I’ve had the chance to discover sides of myself I never knew I had before. When I thought I’ve seen it all; my eyes opened to different aspects of life that I would’ve never had a chance to explore during my studies nor in my native country.

Having said that I truly believe that the most important factor that made my journey possible is “the human aspect”, the people who supported me and stood by my side. My AIESEC family, who made sure I was well settled and looked after and my work family, who challenged my purpose and pushed me to learn and grow. Knowing that there are people who’ve got your back when you are completely alone makes everything worth it.

Last but not least, the credit also goes to this country that despite all the differences and the difficulties embraced me with open arms, made me realize my strengths and taught me to accept my weaknesses.

Tips

My learning process is still not over yet but if I had to sum up what I learned so far, it would definitely be the following points:

  1. Do some research: Prepare yourself mentally by doing a little homework about the country your heading to. I admit no research in the world could measure up to reality but it will sure give you some heads up.
  2. Be a tourist: Allow yourself to explore the place you will call home for few months, so before starting the job, travel and discover and be a tourist!
  3. Embrace the culture: This is very important to help ease your life in any foreign country. Never ever compare one country to another, instead embrace the change and discover the beauty of diversity.
  4. Paperwork and formalities: Being a tourist is fun but working abroad is far more complicated than that. Be aware of the different rules and regulations, educate yourself on the process you need to follow depending on the country you choose to settle in and mostly be patient!
  5. Expect nothing: “Expect nothing and appreciate everything”, Setting expectations can only lead to disappointment so go on this journey with a free mind and give yourself the chance to be surprised. Accept everything that comes your way, you will have good times and some not so good but as my AIESEC friends would say “it’s all part of the experience” so enjoy every moment as it will all be over soon!