Know Before You Go: Interning Abroad in Russia

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Every year traveling gets more and more popular, turning for many people into a way of life. We are always inspired to hear stories of our friends visiting other countries, and we like posting pictures on Instagram fixing the best moments and memories. In a world of endless technologies, booking and planning a trip abroad has become extremely easy.

But, when you plan a professional internship in another country – it is a completely different story. Imagine you want to complete a three month internship and the country you think of is Russia…obviously, getting ready for THAT can actually become a bit stressful and confusing.

International interns in Russia

No worries! We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know before going to Russia for your internship. More specifically, here are all the questions you should know the answers to when you are considering interning in Russia:

Why is Russia a great place for international internships?

Getting an internship in Russia will give you an opportunity to combine many things in one.

First of all, you will visit the largest country on this planet, the land of phenomenal cultural and historical heritage – Russia’s world famous museums and theaters, picturesque landscapes, and sophisticated architecture will make this country an important and memorable mark on your travel map.

Moreover, Russia’s economic activity and its presence on the international arena has gone much higher in the past several years. It is a rapidly developing country with many opportunities opened for those who want to succeed. Russian language is widely spoken around the world, what makes it an important tool for doing global business. Going to Russia - such an interesting and in many ways unexplored country for many people - and completing an internship will definitely give you an edge at the start of your professional career, making you stand out on the job market.

Is it important to know Russian language to take an internship in Russia?

Of course, knowledge of Russian language at least at intermediate level will be to your advantage while interning in Russia. Obviously, such skill could make the internship outcome much greater for you; this is a general truth for any non-English speaking country you choose to travel and intern abroad in. 

BUT, do not let this fact fear you! In Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and other big Russian cities, the English language is very well spoken and understood. Thus, finding an internship in Russia with an English speaking mentor to guide you through your internship will not be a problem. 

St. Isaac's Square, St. Petersburg, Russia

What Russia can offer in terms of professional internships?

Today, Russia is more than ever integrated into the global economy. This means that not only international companies place their headquarters in Russia, but also local Russian business understands the importance of foreign economic expansion and is interested in experience exchange with international specialists. Going to Russia is more valuable than ever before.

Being representatives of another country, with a naturally different mentality and approach, unique skills, knowledge, and objectiveness of a side person, international interns are always welcome in many industries that are important in the Russian economy. It is hard to give an excessive list of top industries where internships in Russia are generally favorable, but just to mention a few:

How can you make the most of an internship in Russia?

Before diving into this question, it would be great to remember one theoretical issue from marketing most of you have definitely heard about; it is a “marketing mix” concept, very often referred to as the “four Ps model”, which highlights four main ingredients of any good or service introduced to the market: price, product, promotion, and place. In general, items with the right “blend” of the “4 Ps” will insure that you are putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time.

Coworkers looking at a laptop

Being an intern at a Russian company demands its own “4Ps” you should keep in mind to make the most of your internship. Here’s the breakdown of the four Ps model, applied to internships in Russia:

PRICE – The price of the equivalent exchange you and your hosting company pay for this experience. Internships in Russia are regularly unpaid, but for the intern, the best payment for an internship is always the first-hand experience, attention, and professional mentorship he or she gets during the internship work as well as the complete immersion into the Russian culture. On the other hand, the work of an intern, the persistence and results produced, can be considered a valuable payment for the time the company devotes to him or her. 

PRODUCT – The product of you going to Russia is your experience and official certificate you get after completion of your internship. Your internship product is a new meaningful line in your resume, which can help you get better position at your future workplace in your country (there are plenty of real examples). And most importantly, the product of your internship in Russia is the network of new acquaintances that will stay in your life forever, if you choose!

PLACE - The place is the perfect match between you and your internship company in Russia, provided by an experienced internship agency; you shouldn’t even consider going to Russia without one.

PROMOTION – Take your chance and promote yourself during your internship abroad! Despite the fact that your program provider will help you to find an internship in Russia with tasks somewhat perfectly matching your educational background and career goals, the best piece of advice about working in a Russian company is to be proactive. Interns in Russian companies are always supposed to be the ones to initiate. It’s in mentality of Russian employers that internships are important for the intern first of all, and in case this is an unpaid internship, the employer may not demand too much from the intern. This is the reason why interns sometimes may feel not involved or useless, but you can avoid that by doing the following:

  • Do not wait until you are told to do something. Speak up about what tasks you would like to get involved in 
  • Suggest work ideas which you think shall be implemented in the company
  • Know your supervisor and set up regular meetings with him to share your ideas and report your results
  • Take responsibility for your work, show you are mature
  • Whenever you have a problem and cannot cope with the given task or project, make sure that you have done everything and tried several times to deal with an issue before addressing for help. 

Final Tips You Need to Know Before Going to Russia

I’ve almost packed my bags! What else should I know before going to Russia?

  1. Visas. In order to secure your smooth stay in Russia, take care of registering your visa with the local authorities. Your program provider should help to organize it for you. Also, a good piece of advice it to print several copies of your passport, leaving one at home, one with you, and one in your luggage; this measure is always worth it and you will thank yourself in case an extra copy is occasionally needed.
  2. Money. Always keep some cash with you. The official currency of Russia is the Russian Ruble. You can bring any currency and change it (Euros and U.S. dollars are most preferable and beneficial for exchanging). Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but some small shops or product stores may not have a special terminal for that. Also, sometimes terminals may be broken in a cafe or restaurant, so you may feel uncomfortable not having cash in your pocket.
  3. Outlets. Do not forget a power bank and adapter for electronic devices you are going to use during your internship in Russia. Standard voltage in Russia is 220V. The plug isn’t anything special; it is the two-pin, thin European standard.
  4. Pack wisely. Take warm clothing for unpredictable weather. April to October are the best months to live in Russia. An umbrella is a must have in Russia, especially in Saint-Petersburg, where you never know when the rain is going to start. 
  5. Drink bottled water. Even though central water cleaning systems may be advanced, producing crystal clear water, pipes in the cities are not renovated at times, which means the tap water can be not suitable for drinking in a raw state. In order to prevent any stomach disorders, always boil water at home or buy bottled water.

Download this checklist to ensure you don't forget anything else!

Lomonosov Bridge, St. Petersburg, Russia

Getting an Internship & Going to Russia is the Opportunity of a Lifetime!

It’s time to get to know the modern Russia; it has great professional and cultural potential. Now you know more about what to expect and how to prepare before you go, so you should be sure your internship in Russia will be a success by now! As they say, “Your life is a message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.” Be open, be adventurous, and interning in Russia will definitely turn into an unforgettable experience and become a message worth sharing with the world! 

Get inspired in your life - find an internship in Russia now!

This article was contributed by ProfIntern, a language and internship placement agency located in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. ProfIntern excels in creating one-of-a-kind internship programs combining three-months professional internship, effective Russian language courses, and a cultural immersion program in Russia.

Topic:  Before You Go