Emily Alff ’18 completed a WEDC-sponsored domestic internship with Matrix Product Development in Sun Prairie, WI in summer 2016. She then interned with Braintribe in Vienna, Austria in summer 2017 after studying abroad in Austria that spring. At UW-Madison, Emily majored in Marketing and International Business with a focus on Europe and earned a certificate in German. She currently works as an Assistant Brand Manager at Unilever in New York City.
How did your IIP internship experience influence your current path?
Interning abroad greatly shaped my career. Currently, I’m on a global team where I work with colleagues and consumers on projects that span 30 countries on six continents, so I’m very grateful to have had international work experience. Personally, doing an international internship strengthened my love of traveling, and (pre-COVID) I try to travel as often as I can!
After some years to reflect, what were some highlights or key takeaways from your IIP internship?
A key takeaway from my internship is that living and working abroad means you must be independent and have confidence in yourself. Once you arrive in the country of your internship, you’ll have to figure out how to live in and navigate around a new place where many people may not speak English. On the job, you’ll want to be confident in the work that you do and the way you present yourself so that you can represent UW and your home country well. If you don’t come into your internship with this sense of confidence and independence, you will definitely develop it during your time abroad!
Why should undergraduates consider interning abroad?
An international internship is a unique experience to have on your resume. Many students have internships and study abroad, but it’s less common to combine the two of them. It’s definitely a conversation starter when a hiring manager or interviewer sees your resume! You’ll also develop skills that can help you in a future job – many roles require you to understand global issues and communicate with coworkers or customers in different countries. No matter what, working abroad will teach you to be more adaptable, creative, and empathetic, which are skills that will help you in any career.
What message or advice do you have for students preparing to intern abroad?
Go into the experience with an open mind and a positive attitude so that you can learn and appreciate what makes working in another country different. Try to connect with your coworkers as much as you can – talk to them about their work, go out for lunch with them, and attend after-work events. Similarly, stay connected with other students doing international internships; they’ll better understand your situation if you want to share experiences or need advice. Most of all, enjoy the internship and make the most of it!
Is there any custom, food, tradition from your host country that you still enjoy now?
One of my favorite quick lunches to get in Vienna was a Käsekrainer. It’s a smoked sausage with a small amount of cheese inside. There are lots of Würstelstände (sausage stands) around the city that sell Käsekrainers for around €3. Once I left Austria, I didn’t have a Käsekrainer for almost three years because I couldn’t find them anywhere in the United States. One day, I happened to come across a pack of them at Wegmans, a grocery store chain on the East Coast. To my surprise, the Wegmans version was (almost) as good as the real thing. Now I buy a pack whenever I have a craving for a Käsekrainer!
In honor of the International Internship Program’s 10th Anniversary, we will be bringing you profiles of IIP alumni who have interned all over the world! Find more alumni profiles here.