How to get an internship at a company in Copenhagen?
My name is Karsten Madsen. I run the Danish web agency Morningtrain. We employ international interns and hired some of them along the way. So here is advice served from the someone who hired a lot of interns. The worst thing you can do is to do like everyone else. Then you will not be remembered unless you have excellent grades. The trick is to stand out in a good way, and the truth is that what determines if you stand out in a good way, is another human being who might or might not like your style of doing that. So an important first lesson is that getting a job, is a bit like dating, and it’s ok that you are not matching with some companies, cause they probably won’t match you either.
Most Danish companies are quite relaxed about hiring, which is not always easy when you are a foreigner. Here are some ideas and tricks I see quite a few applicants pull on me. Don’t just send a resume! Research the company, find out what they might need, and explain how you might solve that problem.
Danish companies love initiative and new ideas. Example: If a company posts a marketing position, try to figure out why they did that, it might even say in the description of the post. Dig into those things, write down a small plan for how you could solve that - and no don’t fill it with a lot of theory and analysis – school ;me is over for now! Companies need ac;on oriented reports. Be modern! Online = modern. Include a link to a well-updated LinkedIn profile, do a video CV if you dare, show off an online portfilolio, or link to other social media like Twitter if you have.
Instagram and Facebook are not the way to go here. Don’t be too formal! The keyword here is be real. Be polite, be nice, and be likeable. That doesn’t mean you need to hide behind yourself in a way too formal mask. This gives the idea you have something to hide. Especially in Denmark, since our culture is straight forward, this could lead to a bad valuation of you.
Show your success score, not your life ;timeline It’s nice to show where you have worked. But a company leader would much rather read a CV that just buzzes words (by
giving examples). Example: If you are reliable, a team player, creative etc. you need to prove it. Reliable could be something like: I haven’t shown in late for my last 2 jobs (+ attach your full schedule and recommendation). Here is an idea that I would personally love: Make headlines of your skills and give examples of when you showed that particular skill, instead of just namedropping companies where you have worked.
It’s actually so easy, but understanding that you are maybe not as proactive as you could be right now, is the hard part. In Denmark initiative is not only appreciated, its demanded. If you can’t come up with your own ideas and solutions this will be a hard place to get an internship. Example: Ask for a meeting and give several suggestions. Prepare for that meeting! Most people fail at this! Another example: Ask well thought out questions about the internship. Clever curiosity is always welcome (and yes, curiosity is in general welcome, but questions that you could have easily researched online make you seem everything but proactive.)
Act professional (not formal!)
Example: “I have prepared a presentation on how I could benefit your company. May I shortly come to present it? I know you are busy; I have cleared my regular schedule so that we can hopefully figure out something.
I am up for the challenge – if you give me a test or task beforehand, I will have it ready on the (insert date)” Tell about your future! Are you learning Danish? Are you planning to leave soon or stay awhile? Are you available for work after the internship? Past is boring, future is interesting. Show your passions! If you are not passionate about anything in the internship position, then you are off to a bad start.
If you are – great!
Now just remember to show it! One of the easiest tricks is to praise a company or be excited about the tasks. It has to be genuine, but genuine passion is something you can actually train yourself up to. I have hired many unskilled people just because of their enormous passion and happy spirit. They always end up doing well, and for sure they make the workplace great for everyone which is VERY valuable.