As I made the conscious decision to stay in Ireland for work experience long-term, i.e. six months, there is a plethora of different experiences, aspects, and more to cover in order to provide a detailed overview of what my stay has been like. However, this report should come with the preface that my level of proficiency has always been rather advanced, hence why this should be taken with a grain of salt.
First and foremost, I greatly appreciated the teachers at NCG. Miriam and George, both of whom are an absolute joy, are great, attentive mentors able to cater to the individual needs of every student. At least, this was very much the case during the short two weeks I was a part of the class environment. Quite honestly, I would have loved to have been part of their lessons for longer than just fourteen days, but alas… Again, though, as I was placed in the most advanced class available as of right now (C1), the nature of the type of lessons I experienced is vastly different from the way a B1 class is structured. For one, we didn’t focus too heavily on grammar (as the vast majority of the students were already confident in their use of English, and only occasionally had to be corrected) and therefore spent a great deal more talking and, consequently, using English than anything else. Various subjects were discussed covering everything from foreign government structures to – my favorite – creative writing. Likewise, the attention and care given by my work experience supervisors at school (Ester and Gabriela) left no room for improvement. In short, they were simply marvelous. Always at my disposal should I need their help, and ever professional in their dealings with students. Even students of a more reticent and nervous disposition will have no issue bringing up even potentially uncomfortable subjects (e.g. problems at work).
Regarding my actual work experience, not everything worked out seamlessly, though I did not expect it to. There are always temporary setbacks in life, as that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. So long as the student in question is accommodating and can easily adjust to unexpected situations, issues will be resolved promptly. As for my own troubles, I have to emphasize, first of all, that the challenges I’ve encountered weren’t so much obstacles as my initial host company simply wasn’t the right fit for me. However, this introduced me to handling uncomfortable situations semi-professionally, as I addressed my concerns with moderate support from Ester as well as Gabriela, and went on to be placed with a small Irish business where everything was just right. For want of a better word, that is. Where the translation office had a tense work atmosphere about it with oftentimes precise expectations and exacting requirements (I don’t know how to put this objectively, as meticulous sort of has a negative connotation. Please reword as you see fit, thanks!) which could frequently be daunting for a newcomer such as myself. I also felt as if my supervisor did not take the time to explain what exactly was expected of me during my internship, thereby leading to misunderstandings that could have been avoided had there been more supervision. This, though, is simply my subjective opinion and should in no way be misconstrued as my devaluing my first work placement. While working for them, I was able to improve on an abundance of pre-existing skills (precision, proofreading, my usage of Spanish, etc.) and received a good reference letter on top of everything – for which I am extremely grateful. I would just like to add, however, that there should be more in-depth questions asked during the skype interview so as to prevent potential misplacements from the get go. Some students are able to thrive and prosper in a high-demanding placement such as the translation office whereas others – newcomers such as myself – may feel overwhelmed despite high English proficiency.
This sets the scene perfectly to mention my second work placement, which was with Brendan at Office Supplies Ireland. Although it did take me a while to get settled, I never felt neglected or not taken seriously at any point during my placement, as the lads will see to it to give every student the feeling as if they’re truly part of the crew. Moreover, Brendan is a great supervisor who tries his best to support every student in whatever way he can, even if there may be hectic days during which a detailed recap may not be feasible. What’s more, they have a clearly defined intern program which will be explained to every intern at the beginning of their work experience. Additionally, there is also a welcome e-mail to brief the student on what type of tasks they’ll be taking care of, which in turn helped me to feel decidedly less stressed going in as I knew, roughly, what to expect.
There are far too many tasks for me to go into detail at this conjuncture, though I primarily took care of tending to the social media side of the company. Twitter, their blog, linkedin, Facebook. This really helped me to understand the emphasis on how crucial and essential social media has become to draw in the attention of potential customers. Likewise, I was given a broad range of different tasks ranging from creative to writing to typical administration obligations (typist work, lists, excel sheets, etc) and, lastly, to Graphic Design 101 utilizing free graphic design websites such as canva.
Last but not least: my host family. Oh, my heart. Of course, I was greeted by a family with three children, two cats and a dog (although, ironically enough, I explicitly stated I did not and could not stay with a host family who has a dog since I have a dog phobia), which took some adjusting. In all honesty, however, Sue’s family made my stay especially sweet. There were no major issues and if there were, they could be resolved internally with no fuss whatsoever. Having been to England before, I knew there were certain things which are simply of lower standards than what we’re used to in Germany (keyword being sanitary facilities) but all in all, there is nothing to complain. The food was always varied, included vegetables and different meats, and Sue took great care in not serving me spicy foods ( as I cannot. I just cannot.), which just goes to show how wonderful she is. Basically: I love them. It was fantastic to stay with them over the holidays ( as I’m a poor as a church mouse), and I did not feel like the odd one out.
Things I did not like
- The public transportation system cannot be trusted. It is not at all comparable to what we’re used to in Germany, and it is devilishly expensive. Be prepared.
- Do not eat out for lunch. I repeat: do not eat out for lunch. It will empty your bank account like it’s nobody’s business.
- Manage your expectations a bit. I did not have that much of an issue with how different the sanitary facilities can be compared to Germany, but you will just have to adjust.
- Pro tip: buy your beauty and hygiene products here. It is less expensive that way.
- Do not expect a king size bed. You are a student and a guest in somebody else’s house. Do not abuse your host family’s hospitality.
- Commuting time. It takes forever, but such is life.