Through practice, you see how the 'real world' really works

Ana Kresic, alumna, OECD internship, Investment Compact for South East Europe (Relations Secretariat), Paris

Alumna Ana Krešić, attending a one-year Master’s degree in economics at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in Spain. During her studies at ZSEM, Ana did her professional practice in Paris no less or more than for the OECD. Today, this aspiring and hard-working alumna decides whether she wants to pursue a PhD after a program in Barcelona or find a job in which to show her analytical and technical skills. As Ana decides on her future career, read her French experience.

You did an internship in Paris. How did you decide to internship abroad?

In Croatia, internships usually last up to two months during the summer holidays, while abroad, frequent practices of 4-6 months or more after the last year of study and before the completion and defense of the thesis. In addition to being a good way of checking that this type of job and the selected company / organization are really suitable for students who will find themselves in the job market very quickly (which is also true in the other direction: future employers often offer jobs to successful trainees after graduation), it is also easier see how the ‘real world’ really works because the tasks and responsibilities you get are usually more serious when the practice lasts for 6 months. Of course, along with other benefits such as perfecting your language, living in another country, new very diverse acquaintances, becoming independent, and everything else related to personal progress.

So the decision to do internships abroad was not difficult at all, it was more a question of finding an interesting internship that I could gain with my knowledge and experience at the time.

How did you find practice in the OECD? How did the selection process go?

ZSEM Career Center has sent a mail enclosing a competition for OECD internships. A resume and a cover letter were requested, which I sent. After a while, I received an answer that I was called for an interview over the phone that lasted 20-25 minutes and included standard personal questions related to CV, motivation and abilities, as well as questions related to the current economic and political situation of Croatia and my view of it. An hour after the interview, I received an email informing me that I had passed the second selection phase, after which an exam was waiting for me. The exam consisted of one question that I had to descriptively answer within one hour, which tested the way of thinking and clarity of the written composition, the level of English and the possibility of meaningful work under a strict deadline.

Shortly after the test, I received an offer for a six-month internship at Investment Compact for South East Europe, which falls under the OECD Global Relations Secretariat.

What does an OECD practitioner’s day look like? What were your main responsibilities and responsibilities?

Almost at any given moment, I was involved in a couple of long-term projects that took place at the same time and in different teams, and I would often be hired on smaller tasks to be done during that day. So the working day consisted of juggling commitments related to long-term projects for which I had pre-arranged deadlines for individual stages and short tasks, which usually consisted of simply working with data, finding targeted information in Croatian and other Southeast European languages, making presentations and the like.

Some of the long-term projects I’ve worked on are: Next Generation Competitiveness Initiative (for areas: Education, Research, Development and Innovation, Healthcare, Competition), developing a STRI database for CEFTA members, developing a database of industrial measures and policies in the new members EU and conference organization, assistance with official translations of previous projects and publications into Croatian.

You are currently studying for a degree in Economics in Barcelona. To what extent have professional practices prepared you for the challenges of further education and work? What do you think you gained from this international experience?

I gained a new perspective, learned how to place (and what exactly) learned theory within the scope of this type of work, discovered new areas that interest me, but also what to focus on through future education. New acquaintances also mean a lot. In addition to meeting wonderful people and making friends that I still maintain, I have heard other people’s stories and experiences that have shown me opportunities and given ideas I was not aware of before. In addition, I had the opportunity to learn how to communicate and work with older, more educated and experienced colleagues who regularly gave me enough freedom and responsibility to develop my own ideas, and again they gladly directed me whenever I needed help. It is very important that I have had the opportunity to try myself in a professional environment, to compare myself with colleagues and to see what I am good at and what I need to work on – I mean knowledge, but also the way of working and communication.

What is your advice to young students looking for an internship abroad?

If you are able, be sure to apply at graduation and do not be afraid of lengthy internships or a couple of rejections. P.S. The OECD regularly seeks interns through its site.

Interlocutor: Ana Krešić