Internships Can Launch Surprising Opportunities

This post was originally published at Indiana INTERNnation.

The fun part of interning is that you never know what events you will have a chance to attend and what people you will get an opportunity to meet.  If you keep your eyes wide open, your internship can extend beyond your primary responsibilities and the department to which you are assigned.

After my Washington D.C. internship in international affairs did not work out because of differences in mine and the company’s schedules, I was desperately looking for something in Indiana.  I picked up the phone and called the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. To be honest, at that point of time, in mid-May, I did not expect that there would be anything available.  I picked up the phone because I thought that trying every single opportunity would be the right thing to do.

To my surprise, I was offered an exciting internship assisting Indiana INTERNnet with marketing and communications. What was even more surprising is that sometime later, I was able to participate in an international affairs event and had the opportunity to expand my professional network with a few interesting people – a high governmental official from my native country and some Indiana business community representatives interested in doing business in Russia.

Last Friday, the Russian Senator, Mikhail Margelov, who also heads the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian Federation Council, gave a presentation at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce about Russian investment opportunities and potential reset in US-Russia economic relations.  He was accompanied by the senior management of the U.S.-Russia Business Council, which promotes mutually beneficial business relations between the countries. 

I introduced myself to the Senator, took a picture with him, and we chatted in Russian.  I thought that he would be the only person to whom I would speak my native language. But you know what?  I was approached in Russian by the CEO of one of the Indiana firms that deals with the Russian Space Agency about working part-time and assisting them in communication with their Russian partners.

I also had a chance to speak Russian with the Director of International Government Affairs of one of the biggest American companies. It turned out that he went to the university in Moscow 18 years ago.  He still practices his Russian and has a dream of reading the books of famous Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, in original print.  Now I have the memories of the great conversation, his card, and his promise to introduce me to the staff of their office in Moscow.

So, keep your eyes wide open, pay attention to what is going on in different departments in your company, and do not miss the opportunity to meet new people.  As it happened in my case, even if you do not go to D.C., some international official might come to see you in Indianapolis.