My name is Ernest, I am 27, work as Continuous Improvement Associate in Electrolux AB, located in Stockholm, Sweden. I started my AIESEC internship right after I finished a master degree at Aalborg University in Denmark.
After having lived in Denmark for the last 6 years, I thought that it might be a good idea to go abroad for an internship. The idea of getting international experience, entirely new environment and meeting new interesting people excited me, so I decided to search for my future internship abroad, having post-graduate programmes in Denmark as a backup plan. So, first of all, I researched a variety of internet sources and consulted with professors and student colleagues with the aim of collecting useful information about internships abroad. Forgot to mention, that I have had AIESEC internship in Belgium as 3rd and 4th semester of my master studies. In short - it was an extremely positive experience. Apart from that, I spoke with my friend, who studied with me about his AIESEC internship, which he was taking during his bachelor studies. He found this internship via AIESEC database and it took place in Germany. His feedback was also positive and he enjoyed every bit of it. I decided in that moment “Why not try it again?” and contacted the local AIESEC branch in Aalborg University to support me with this idea. Long story short, soon enough I got an offer from Stockholm, Sweden from Electrolux HQ, to work in a newly established Continuous Improvement department, as a Continuous Improvement Associate.
I had my first phone interview (out of 3) with HR representative from Electrolux in May (before I finished my studies) and the last phone interview with HR business partner in the end of May. After reaching an agreement about terms and expectations of this internship, company and I signed the internship contract. I must admit that I was surprised how much support I was provided by Aalborg University’s AIESEC branch and AIESEC Sweden branch. They helped me with signing, translating all the official papers, and furthermore AIESEC Sweden provided very valuable practical information for newcomers, which included accommodation info and its search websites, information concerning health insurance, residence card, transportation etc. This information is extremely important, and by having it, I saved a bunch of hours, which research and questioning local people would otherwise take.
After successfully defending my thesis during the last semester at Aalborg University, summer holidays took place. I relocated to Sweden at the end of July 2016. It was a massive change, but I believe this change was for good. At least my feelings, experience, and emotions tell me so. During the first days in Stockholm, I was discovering mostly the city, since I arrived a couple of days before my internship actually started. This was the right choice, since I was able to settle down, find all necessary places (grocery shops; public transport stops etc.) before going to work without any rush. The weather in Sweden is similar to Danish weather, however, it is not as windy as in Denmark, which I believe is a positive side. (Don’t want to count the number of my umbrellas, which were destroyed by wind in Denmark(!)). Since I was working in the central part of Stockholm, I limited myself only by 3-4 districts in the city, where I would prefer to live in, due to their well-developed transport connections as well as the acceptable rent. I was lucky to find my accommodation on my own without involving local AIESEC community. My place is located in the Southern part of Stockholm, on the border with the next municipality. However, as mentioned before, due to a well-developed transportation, it takes me less than 40 mins to get to work. Apart from that, it takes approximately 25 mins to get to the city center. So as you can imagine, I am located relatively close to the main parts of the city, which is a perfect balance between social life, and the time I would need to spend for transportation from and to work. Here AIESEC assisted me with providing information concerning useful websites and links, where I could find accommodation. I was also lucky since some of my friends had an internship in Stockholm before me, so they also gave me some “coaching” about norms, values, MUST-VISIT places. All these factors and some research I made in advance provided me already with some knowledge about Stockholm and Swedish culture. That is why I strongly recommend to all future AIESEC interns, no matter where they will go, to do preliminary research: the Internet, friends, acquaintances etc. – this will save a lot of time, money and you will avoid unnecessary stress and mistakes.
Electrolux AB is a publicly owned multinational company, with almost 100 years long history. My colleagues in the company all speak English, and many many other languages, since it is extremely multinational (more than 50 nationalities). Furthermore, they are all friendly and always willing to help. After I moved to Sweden, they helped with practical information such as the location of the shops and which ones to choose, where can I find dentist etc.
Every day in the company is unique and not the same as any other days, which made my work very exciting and kept me motivated throughout my internship. I believe I was very lucky to get this opportunity to try my strengths in such a dynamic environment. I was even luckier to get a knowledgeable boss, who always had tasks for me, which required me to use knowledge from different fields while developing my personality as well as professional competencies. My position was called “Continuous Improvement Associate”, which includes a broad spectrum of areas. For example, I was working with operational improvements, process engineering, operations optimization, data analysis, etc. I believe this is one of the essential advantages of Electrolux – having more tasks and responsibilities (especially important for an intern!), which are not limited by one function or repetitive task, which is often seen in other huge multinational companies. In addition, apart from everyday work, I participated in various events, for example, Electrolux Christmas market 2016, where the products produced by Electrolux are being sold. Another important aspect of my internship was the fact, that my boss discussed with me various issues and my opinion were taken into account when making certain decisions. Usually, managers don’t really consider interns’ opinions as valuable, due to lack of experience, young age etc. Furthermore, I felt his support and true belief in me that tasks, which will be assigned to me, will be done with high level of responsibility and quality. That is indeed very valuable and motivates always to do my best!
An advice for future AIESEC interns based on my experience would be – it is very important to align your expectations and company’s expectation, so there are no unpleasant surprises and misunderstanding when you actually start your internship. Always be proactive, willing to learn, work and help your colleagues. Remember, that professional skills and knowledge is, of course, good. But these are often not the most critical criteria when selecting a person for the position. Your social skills often times play the decisive role when being accepted or rejected for a vacancy. Would you yourself like to spend 50% of your time in a week, working together with a sociable, positive, proactive person with good sense of humor or with a negative individual, who is lazy, avoids responsibility and is complaining all day long?
Social life in Stockholm is Scandinavian specific I must admit. I would characterize Stockholm as a unique blend of historical beauty, especially represented by architecture and museums, and modern business city, with its pace, thousands of busy people who are constantly in a rush. This is the place where past meets the future. A large number of various events every week all over the city, numerous bars, clubs, pubs etc. Apart from that, the cultural element is also always present – theaters, concert halls, monuments etc. Furthermore, AIESEC Sweden constantly organized social events, where I could meet and get to know other interns in Sweden. That helped me to expand my professional network and exchange with internship experience. If I was asked to say, which day in Sweden was the most special for me, I would say the first thing, that pops in my mind is the “Stockholm Santa Run” day, which took place on in the end of 2016 before Christmas. It was a simple indescribable day – thousands of people on preparing for a charity run in Santa costumes! This was amazing, and most importantly, people who really needed the money and funding, got it (i.e. Red Cross, and the Children Cancer fond).
Recommendation for future AIESEC interns – be socially active! You never know what opportunities or new things a new day will bring. As famous speaker Les Brown once said: “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared!”.
It’s hard to find the right words to fully express my satisfaction and gratitude to AIESEC. It has given me a lot and this experience definitely shaped my personality and improved me as a person. From my side, I hope I contributed to the improvement of the organization in terms of its reputation, network and helping other AIESEC’ers.
In the end of my short AIESEC story, I would like to sum up by providing key points, which will say how I changed as a person and what I learned by doing the internship with AIESEC:
• Improved my leadership skills
• Made new friends and met many new people
• Gained valuable work experience
• Participated in variety of AIESEC events and meetings
• Discovered new opportunities and new strengths within myself
• Developed excellent presentation and communication skills
• Enhanced the ability to adapt to a new culture and new environment