My experience with ProfIntern

Program: Individual internships
Extra: 2-way airport transfer, Issuing the invitation for visa

12 апреля, 2019

I spent 2,5 months in St. Petersburg from February to April, taking Russian lessons in the morning and working part-time at a NGO-developing centre in the afternoon. Being almost a complete beginner with the language I highly benefitted from the Russian language course – also due to my very patient and skilled teacher at the school. Two weeks into my stay I began my internship in what you might call the field of non-governmental work in Russia. I interned at an office for the capacity building and strengthening of the charity sector in Russia, which was located in a building where tons of other NGO’s also had their offices. Hence my placement was filled with inspiring, welcoming and passionate people, who were extremely helpful and generous with giving me an impression of the general landscape of NGOs in Russia. Unfortunately, however, I was not able to return their generosity; because of my lacking language skills, the tasks for me to do at the office were limited. I only had a few relevant tasks: I was in charge of some statistical analysis on various topics, and I did some minor article writing and translation work, but during my internship I mostly wandered around the office, helping with whatever administrative and practical tasks that occurred. This was a little disappointing at first, since I did not utilize or strengthen my professional or academic competencies, but the fact that my placement and tasks were very flexible had its advantages. It enabled me to continue taking Russian lessons throughout my whole stay and gave me more time to do independent research in St Petersburg. I also learned a lot by just observing the work of my colleagues and participating in the different events of the building, all related to the sphere of NGOs in Russia. For other applicants considering both doing a language course and an internship, I highly recommend keeping the two separate (e.g. beginning with one-month language school and then proceed with internship only), since your schedule will be packed if you do it simultaneously leaving little room for thinking, absorbing and exploring.

I left St. Petersburg with confidence in my choice of academic specialization, which was the reason why I wanted to go to Russia in the first place, so I am overall very happy with my stay. I can highly recommend ProfIntern as a gateway into Russia, as I have found this to be the absolute hardest part to do on your own when wanting to engage with the country and its people. ProfIntern are very professional and do a great job in finding just the right placement for every individual client. Anna and Maria both invest a lot of their presence in making you feel comfortable while you are in Russia, and they are always available if you face any problems during your stay. However, I could have hoped that the tasks during my internship had been more clearly formulated and organized by Profintern before my stay, in order both for my own learning outcome to have been higher and also so that I could have contributed more at the host organization.

With regards to life in Russia in general, I found St. Petersburg to be a magical city of great thinkers, writers and courageous people, with a vibrant atmosphere touched by its long and remarkable history. Its beauty especially stood out in the early mornings and late nights where the streets were empty of people and the noise from the overwhelming daily traffic in the center. Even though the weather is colder, I advise people to visit the city during winter and early spring, since this is low season for tourists which will enable you to experience a different and more local side of St. Petersburg. Also use the late opening hours of Museums to avoid the crowds. The city is filled with all sorts of communities with various aims and activities, so make sure to engage with the ones that fit your interests! During my stay, I only met open hearts and minds when contacting groups and participating in events, and this was definitely where I learned the most about the country and its people. I found accommodation myself through Airbnb, which is advisably in low season if you prefer staying on your own — the prices are low and locations often are great.

Sidsel Marie Henriksen (Denmark)
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