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My internship in Montenegro
by Katrina Thomsen (M.A. International Management)

Katrina in the office during her internship in Montenegro

This is the testimonial about my internship in Montenegro, which took place from the beginning of June until the end of July. The internship was done as a mandatory part of the Master‘s degree in International Management.
I chose to divide my testimonial into several sections in order to give insights into my experience as a whole, as I learned a lot and developed myself both personally and professionally throughout the experience.

The company

”Tehnopolis” (pronounced ”Teknopolis”), the company that I interned at, is a small tech innovation centre in the town of Niksic, located in western Montenegro. The company is newly established and I was the first intern from abroad that they have received so far. My daily tasks were startup research, statistics, translation and event planning.

The country

When arriving in Montenegro and exploring the cities and villages, it is immediately clear that this country has had a long and rough past. As I explored the many streets and neighbourhoods in the Montenegrin towns, I could notice how the past had affected the people of Montenegro. In so many places, I could notice the years ”1986”, ”1987” and ”1988” grafitti sprayed on walls everywhere.

Before I arrived in Montenegro I have done a lot of research about Yugoslavia, Montenegro and the history behind the countries, and this reminded me of the fact that the Yugoslav dictator, Josip Broz Tito, passed away in the late 1980’s and it was exactly around this time that the wars in Yugoslavia started. This made me reflect about what actually happened during the Cold War, which tensions were between the West and the Soviet societies and what the people actually had to go through.

The people

Most Montenegrin people are friendly and helpful. When I arrived at the company everyone were very friendly and welcoming and we could easily communicate in English. The Montenegrin society is generally more conservative than most European countries:  topics such as sex, gender diversity and mental health are quite tabooized. The society is also more collectivistic, e.g. people in Montenegro are very close to their families. 

Major challenges

Being the only foreigner in my company, the major challenges that I faced during the internship were cultural, organisational and communication differences. I always talked a lot to a new friend, another intern at the company who was a local Montenegrin there. She was really helpful and always explained me very well how the Montenegrin mentality is. The conversations I had with my friend made me think about how strong and important the hierarchy in Montenegrin companies is, as well as how people communicate among each other and how important status is for them. 

Conclusion and advice for future interns

In spite of the cultural differences and challenges that I went through I completed the internship in Montenegro which I am very happy about today. I had enjoyable moments in the country, got to meet many lovely people and saw so many places beautiful beyond belief.

The most important lesson that I learned was how to be patient and informed about other peoples’ backgrounds, and to understand why some cultures behave as they do. I also managed to solve problems which were challenging. The experience also taught me the important lesson about how to be strong and consistent towards my goals. My goal was to complete an internship in Montenegro, and regarding the challenges along the way I had to take matters into own hands, push myself through tough situations and not to follow my instinct that guided me to what was the easiest thing to do: to quit.

When I look back at the time I had in Montenegro I often think ”what if everyone that did an internship abroad just turned back home when facing challenges?”. I believe that this is, at a micro-level, where the world slowly gets to work closer together and is becoming a better place.

Today, I am very happy for the experience, the skills, the knowledge and the good memories that I got and I would never replace the internship experience with anything else. My advice to other people who are considering to do an internship abroad: do it! If you are considering to do it, don’t start thinking about what could go wrong or how challenging it could be. Think about how amazing it could be. The more it will challenge you the more it will teach you, and there will most likely also be a lot of good moments. It will develop you a lot and you will learn so much about yourself as well as the mysterious and beautiful world that we live in. A lot of people told me that I was crazy because I wanted to do my internship in Montenegro, but my gut feeling told me to do it anyway, and I feel today that what I did was right. I am very grateful for the opportunity.

This internship was supported by a PROMOS scholarship: