Q&A with Panrimo’s Director of Intern Abroad Programs!

What inspired you to create Panrimo?
In college while considering my international studies options, I couldn’t find a program with which I felt comfortable. It was either a faculty-led program that was too specific, or a third party program provider that made me feel like a cattle being corralled among the many. I graduated college, worked in the corporate field, lived abroad, and during all this I thought about how I could make studying and interning abroad easier for others than it was for me. I wanted to create a more intimate, personal experience for a very important decision people make in their life. And so was born Panrimo.

What is the most important thing for companies to keep in mind when offering an internship to a foreign student?
Make it a win-win. You as the employer are taking a lot of time and financial resources to welcome and properly train the student–the Panroamer–to be helpful and efficient for your business. That’s a sacrifice I completely understand. The student is traveling thousands of miles and paying to work–likely for free–in a completely unique setting to him or her. That’s a sacrifice. With the supervisor (you) appreciates the extra help and international fair of our student, and if we prepare the student well enough to be culturally ready for many situations abroad, everyone involved wins. Just have an open mind and know the student simply didn’t hop on a plane on a whim.

Is there a set of characteristics that you look for when deciding if an applicant will be successful in their internship abroad?
A successful Panrimo student applicant is someone who has some experience in the field of work their vying for abroad. We do not provide our employer partners overseas anyone who hasn’t had hands-on experience already, or at least ample classroom knowledge, in the field their going to intern in. We also make sure the student can write well. And equally important, when we Skype interview each applicant before considering them for an interview with you, we gauge the likelihood they’ll be mature enough to live in a foreign country.

What advice would you give to a student that is interested in interning abroad but not sure if they are ready to live in another culture?
If a student, I recommend you read up, watch a ton of films and movies, listen to music, and meet natives of your country of interest while you are in your home city. Understand the culture before you go abroad. Create some preconceived notions about the culture; it will make life abroad upon landing an easier adjustment. And chat with Panrimo staff and Panroamers! We and they are a wealth of knowledge on all things abroad!

What is your favorite part of the intern abroad process?
I love the partnering process. I love meeting nonprofits and businesses abroad, both small and large, and sharing with them our success stories of Panrimo interns working overseas. Seeing if partnering with them and them with us is always a healthy debate, often had over the host country’s local plate of food. It’s as much a satisfying feeling to find a great business or nonprofit in a city abroad that just would not be a good fit with us as it is finding a stellar business or nonprofit abroad who “gets” what Panrimo does and is eager to receive quality international students as interns. When a student interns at that organization through Panrimo and returns home with a great experience on their resume and contacts abroad, I feel I did a good job.

Have you studied or interned abroad?
During my first year in college I knew I wanted to go abroad. And soon. I found a faculty-led program to Mexico assisting a professor in the Yucatan on analyzing post-consumer content. Geography wasn’t my major, but it did push me to decide Spanish would be. The next year I organized a group of 8 classmates, communicated with a university abroad, and study Spanish in Spain. That program has since been taken over by my alma mater and they send 15-25 students to Santander, Spain yearly. I finished classes a semester early and decided on Buenos Aires for my honors thesis project. A professor in political science inspired me who had been there. I had never been to South America. I met someone at a party in Michigan and he put me in touch with his Argentine cousin. From that one contact I left Buenos Aires with dozens of friends I have today. Graduating college I went to Prague, Czech Republic to visit my mom who was living there. I worked selling Argentine beef and wine and hosted wine tastings at embassies in Prague. The rest is history! I probably sleep in my own bed less than half the year. I travel a lot.

 

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