Following a friend’s recommendation and motivated to improve her English language, Zulayiha travelled from Belgium to do an internship in the UK. The placement exceeded her expectations, and she is now a full-time member of the team.
Zulayiha took part in a six-month internship with European Placement Network (EPN) in Bristol as part of the MATCHSI project funded by Erasmus+. MATCHSI aims to improve matchmaking between the needs and expectations of trainees, VET providers and host companies through an adaptable, user-friendly toolkit. The goal is to significantly reduce the number of participants who are sometimes disappointed or disillusioned due to their international work placement being different from what they expected.
Challenging, enriching and growing are the words Zulayiha used to sum up her Erasmus+ experience when she talked to us about her placement abroad.
My main goal was to improve my English, and I truly believed that getting experience in the UK would be valuable for my future career in recruitment.
If I hadn’t done my internship at EPN I probably wouldn’t have been hired to work as their full time employee.
Boosting language skills and self-confidence
I developed the competence to write emails in a very formal way. I am sure that it will be very easy for me to have a job anywhere now, as I am comfortable working in English.
If I hadn’t been immersed in an English environment, I wouldn’t have had the chance to improve my English as fast as I did.
Also, I learned how to be independent and autonomous as sometimes when the coordinators were in business meetings abroad, I had to manage the office by myself and it was the first time I had so many responsibilities on my shoulders.
The placement helped my professional development by giving me skills in autonomy and organisation. My job at EPN was very varied and I had to manage a lot of things at the same time by myself.
What career path?
The MATCHSI toolkit really helped to clarify what I wanted for my internship and to have the perfect match for me and for the company. Also, it helped me to know more about the job market and my sector as I had to do some further research to understand my sector in order to explain the tasks that I was expecting to do during the placement.
The process of producing a video CV to present myself, my skills and my motivation was quite scary at first but it taught me a lot and really helped me to get my dream internship.
It mostly helped me by showing me exactly what I wanted to do in my professional career.
I came to this work placement with ambitions of working in the recruitment sector, but soon changed my mind as I realised that I wanted something a lot more people-focused.
I would say it’s the best experience you could have but also be prepared for it, because it isn’t easy.
You need to make new friends, adapt to a new culture, and deal with the fact that you are far from your family, but in the end, the experience makes you grow.
Also, check that you can use your phone abroad and that you have internet access.
Something that could be useful as well is to download translation apps onto your phone; they will be really useful when you are stuck for a word or for an expression. Be prepared for English food but luckily the Italian, French, Chinese and Indian food are really great in the UK.
Youth story by Zulayiha Umupfasoni
Interested in internships overseas? Visit our “Work abroad” pages and find out what you could do!