Catharina Menssen is our first Student of the Month from the Dublin Internship Programme! The Erasmus+ funded initiative gave her the chance to go to Dublin for three weeks and do work experience at Travel Representation Solutions, a marketing agency with focus on the travel industry. Back home in Bad Zwischenahnin in north-west Germany, Catharina works as an apprentice and is looking to become an Office Management Assistant in the near future. We spoke to her about the eye-opening journey, where she met her new boyfriend and got her head around marketing – an industry she was previously unaccustomed to.
What sparked your interest for travel and tourism?
I was always good at learning different languages. At school I learned English and for a couple of years I took Spanish and French lessons. I always wanted to explore new countries and cultures. It is very interesting to see the world and life from the point of view of a local. My dream is to go on an around-the-world trip and visit as many different countries as possible.
What was the best moment of your trip?
It is not easy to say, because there were so many beautiful moments. It was beautiful to see the sunrise above the sea and the beach of Portmarnock every morning while waiting for the bus. Every night I went to the beach, listening to the waves and airplanes, just enjoying the moment. I also met my new boyfriend on my trip to Ireland. He was part of my group but we didn't know each other before. That also made this trip more special for me.
What was it like working at Travel Representation Solutions?
Working at Travel Representation Solutions was like being part of a small family. We had so much fun, laughed a lot and talked about everything. I only visited for two weeks, but it wasn't easy to leave. My supervisor even invited me to stay with them for a few more months after I finished my apprenticeship!
What were your tasks?
Marketing was my main focus during the work experience. Everything was new to me because in Germany I work for a tax consultant and have never prepared presentations or done anything marketing-related. I did a lot of presentations and reports with PowerPoint for Travel Representation Solutions' clients. I also did some statistics and analysis for them in Excel. The thing I was most nervous about was answering the phone, but after the second time I felt fine and I started to like talking on the phone in a different language.
We heard that you have been very helpful and cooperative and helped create a flyer for an award that was appreciated by the company. How do you think you achieved that?
At the beginning of creating the flyer for Irish Travel Trade Awards I was a little bit nervous. It was the first task they gave me and I had never done anything like it before. My first design of the flyer was really bad. But then I had a rethink and I asked myself what kind of flyer I would like to be given and researched examples of flyers on the internet. My second try was pretty good and after the flyer was completed, I just had to correct some grammatical errors. I was really happy about it when my supervisor told me that they are going to use my flyer!
How would you compare your work placement to your work or school back home?
My work placement was definitely less stressful than in Germany. People in Ireland are much more relaxed. It seems like work is not the most important thing in life there, which is very different from the German culture. I also think that the communication and interaction between colleagues, customers and foreigners is much better and easier than in Germany.
How has this experience inspired you?
I heard about the Dublin Internship Programme from my teacher and I would like to thank my teacher and my manager at work for giving me the opportunity and time off to travel to Ireland and for this great work experience. I really can't say what the most inspiring experience was. The whole trip and what I did there was inspiring.
If you travel to other countries you have the chance to see lots of beautiful places and cities, but you will probably not have the experience of living and working there. Erasmus+ and ADC College gave me the chance to visit a country I have never been to before.
What did you learn from the trip?
The most important thing I learned from my internship is that you should always stay open-minded. With that mindset you will learn something new in life every day, no matter where you go. The trip changed me and my point of view. You should always treat others like you would like to be treated.
What are your plans for the future?
I am not sure what I will do after my apprenticeship. Maybe I will accept my supervisor's invitation or I will work for a while and travel somewhere else.
What would your advice be for students who are yet to embark on this journey?
Use this chance! Don't be scared of being alone far away from home. Try to go for as long as possible, because in my opinion three weeks is too short. The time in Dublin just flies! Also give it some time, it takes a few days to settle in. The first few days were really hard for me, but then it became the best three weeks ever! Be happy and proud about this experience. I would do it all over again.
Catharina visited Dublin with our Internship Programme, a project eligible for funding from Erasmus+. Now we are also arranging work experience projects in Dublin. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.