While studying with Champlain Abroad in Dublin, I interned with Unify Ordering. Unify connects restaurants and other food services with suppliers through both their app and website. They digitalize suppliers’ product lists with item details, in order to avoid the confusion and incorrect order quantities that have often occurred within the food industry.
As an Irish startup, they have a small team. Therefore, during my time there, only three or four of us would be in the office together. Day to day, I helped out with many operational tasks: managing product lists, customer support, and making sure account information was correct on the company’s back end.
A long-term project I worked on was completely rewriting the help articles to reflect updates and changes to the platform. Thanks to the different accounting and financial classes I’ve taken at Champlain, my Excel skills are pretty on par and I ended up the de facto office expert whenever there was a spreadsheet involved!
Although we had to head home to the United States earlier than expected due to the coronavirus, my internship site was sad to see me go and enthusiastic about continuing my work remotely. The transition to working 3,000 miles away back home wasn’t too difficult since most of the work I had been doing was online and independently-based.
The transition to working remotely (in combination with being in a different time zone) was definitely a challenge. However, I have developed better organizational and time management skills when I am responsible for different tasks happening at once. Unify is growing rapidly and is always being updated with new features, so making sure to communicate with the team often was also very important.
One of the key aspects of interning remotely for Unify was staying up to date with conversations in Slack. Additionally, I had weekly calls with my supervisor in order to stay updated on the team and go over new tasks. Unify uses a project management software called Jira, which keeps projects organized and keeps track of everything they are doing— especially helpful while working remotely with a time difference.
One of the biggest cultural differences I experienced during my internship abroad was Ireland’s high-context culture. Compared to America’s low-context culture, the way Irish people communicate in both professional and social settings is heavily tied to their history. Communication is less direct and the way something is said carries more weight than the message itself. While this often meant that directions at my internship felt a bit ambiguous, Irish people place a larger emphasis on getting to know each other and developing relationships with coworkers than American workplaces. I personally think it’s a great aspect of Irish culture, and definitely helps to build stronger teams.
I had a great time interning with Unify Ordering and enjoyed experiencing both the Irish work culture and being in an entrepreneurial setting. Seeing a small company being built from the ground up—from app development to seeking investors—was an invaluable experience and it fits perfectly with both my major and minor.
Working in a different culture helps with developing a wider mindset, better communication skills, and cultural intelligence to work effectively with people from all backgrounds. Especially as businesses become increasingly global and more work is done virtually, international work experience is a priceless addition to your resume.
I highly recommend that any student studying abroad considers an internship. Besides being a great work experience for your resume, living and working in a new place gives you a better idea of what it’s really like to live there day to day like a local. Plus, you’ll make international friends and network connections that can open up so many doors to new opportunities in the future. I miss going into the Unify office every week, and can’t wait to go back and visit.