An internship is a necessity nowadays, not only just an opportunity for a young person. If in the past people used to pay “a master” to teach them a craft or a profession, today youngsters have enormous possibilities in having university degrees, taking online courses, participating in various trainings and start the career they want. But along with all these possibilities, college students confront with less job vacancies and a harsh competition for finding a good job.
In Albania, many foreign companies give young adults the opportunity to attend internships and learn from professionals. They often become our inspiration and the example to follow as the case of an American young girl named Amber Steimle Vance, one of the most special visitors of Protik Innovation Center.
During the fall of 2014, she attended a three-month internship in Tirana capital and her husband an internship at Mother Teresa University Hospital Center. After hearing about this, we interviewed Amber to know more about choosing Albania to take an internship.
How comes that you choose Albania to take an internship?
I came to Albania with my husband during summer in 2014 because he served a two-year church mission in Albania a few years ago in Tirana. He wanted to come back and visit and I wanted to come too, wondering how Albania would be. After coming to Tirana, we decided to both find internships for the summer. We spent a lot of time emailing people to find internship opportunities. I worked with the American Chamber of Commerce in Albania to find organizations to work with.
Amber is 22 years old and currently a senior studying at Brigham Young University, majoring in Business Strategy and taking minor courses in Sociology and Economics, in Utah USA. She was warmly welcomed at Protik center where she worked on various projects. The 22 year old student describes her experience as unique, something that she would never think before, since she had any kind of information about Albania.
How can you describe your experience at Protik?
Amber: It was a wonderful experience working under the mentorship of Protik specialists, mainly mentored by Erika Grabocka, which holds the position of business and marketing manager. People in Albania are very hospitable and kind. I worked on several programs during my internship and helped Protik in developing new programs, in training new entrepreneurs. I have also had a role at Junior Achievement Albania, at which I organized the first JA Alumni event.
It is always interesting knowing foreigners’ impressions about your country and how they see things outside of the box. When asked about her impressions on Albania, Amber replies: “Before visiting Albania, I had no idea how it was like. The only thing I was expecting was a totally new adventure, and that’s how it came to be. I knew that when coming here, I would learn new cultural norms and the way people work. I learned so much about this little country which has inherited a unique old tradition and values.”
Amber, is it necessary for Albanian students to take internships and how this practice works in USA?
Amber: Absolutely yes! In USA, if you are 22 years old you maybe have attended no less than1 internship taken during the summer season or during school. Internships are very important for gaining professional experience and it is also a requirement of every company you will apply for a job in the future. In USA almost all of my peers attend internships because is very difficult starting your career having an empty CV. Most of my peers have attended at least 1 small internship and a “big” internship (more than a three months full time work practice in a serious company).
A very positive model that USA universities offer is that students may convert their work practices with university credits, a very smart policy to encourage students in attending internships during school time. Despite universities, even big companies create internship programs dedicated only to students, which sometimes are paid and sometimes unpaid, but this is not an important thing.
Students work jointly with their mentors in the company they work to solve company’s problems. The most common roles students take during internships relate to market research, product development, marketing campaigns, application development, ect.
Does Albania offers internships opportunities to Albanian or non Albanian students?
Amber:I don’t think I got to answer this question, so here is what I’d say: “From my experience, Albania does not yet have many formal internship opportunities available for young adults, but there is an increasing amount, and you can almost always work with an organization to create an internship that fits your interests. Protik, for example, offers several internships. There are several other companies with potential opportunities (Deloitte, Vodafone, PwC, several banks, and more). Albanian students, and anyone looking to develop skills and gain better employment, may benefit from seeking out and creating these opportunities.”
Being so, Albanian students must be aware of internships’ importance and exploit these possibilities as much as they can. This advice goes also for all non Albanian college students that live, work or study in Albania.
Would you like to live in Albania is you had the chance?
Amber: “I enjoyed my time in Tirana, but America is home for me. I loved the food, breathtaking scenery, and the people I met. I hope I will get to visit Albania again.”
Interviewed by Alketa Halilaj, Editor in chief – Invest in Albania
Photo: Amber Steimle Vance