João Orvalho studied Computer Science in Beja, Portugal and he wanted to do an international traineehip in between his bachelors degree and masters degree. So he came to Slovakia! We have a written interview below so you can find out more and also a video link which you can watch.
1, How did your story first begin and why did you decide to take an Erasmus+ internship in Slovakia?
Before my Erasmus+ internship in Slovakia, I participated in an Erasmus Exchange Program for 5 months at Technical University of Ostrava in Czech Republic. It was a nice experience, and there I found out how valuable international experience really is.
At the end of my Bachelor of Computer Science I also had the opportunity to participate again in the Erasmus program, but now, in an Erasmus+ internship.
Since I was looking forward for a new experience abroad, I started looking for Internship offers in Europe. During that time, a classmate was returning from his Erasmus+ internship in Slovakia and recommended Placement Slovakia for those who were looking for an Erasmus+ internship. At that time I thought „Why not Slovakia? I have never been there...“. I started asking questions to my classmate and searched for articles on the Internet about the life style, the traditions, the nature and so on in Slovakia. Afterwards, I concluded that Slovakia would be the country where I would like to do my Erasmus+ internship.
2, Can you tell what responsibilities the company gave you at work?
In the company I worked as a Web Programmer in both the front-end and back-end of the company's Website, applying the agile methodology Scrum in the development of my activities, which were performed using multiple web technologies, such as cloud-based technologies, systems virtualization, code-testing processes, a REST API, Node.js platform, MongoDB NoSQL database, jQuery library, Laravel Framework, Bootstrap platform, Framework Vue.js, Sass language and with the Git version control.
The key tasks included adding new features as well as improving the performance and design of the Website. The knowledge acquired through my academic life was integrated in the workspace which demonstrated the importance of a solid educational background.
3, What skills did you improve the most during your traineeship?
My internship allowed me to enhance interpersonal skills and gain valuable experience in a real-world working environment of a Web Programmer, granting knowledge about the professional life in this work field. Furthermore, I gained the ability to work as a team member and the the ability to work creatively and analytically in a problem-solving environment.
4, What were your expectations and were they met?
I wanted to gain experience in a real-world working environment, gain the ability to work creatively and analytically in a problem-solving environment, improve my CV, work with new technologies, meet new persons, gain the ability to work as a team member and leave my comfort zone for some time. Fortunately, all of my expectations were met!
5, Were there any tasks given to you that you had no idea how to complete? If so, how did you solve it?
During my internship, I worked with some technologies and programming patterns that I didn't know how they worked, which led me to perform several researches on the internet to figure out the best solutions to perform tasks. Besides that, I always had the privilege to learn a lot with my mentor and my colleagues. My colleagues and my mentor were always willing to help me.
6, How did you find out about our program and how would you evaluate our assistance provided during your period here?
Placement Slovakia is great program for higher education students and graduates from European Union countries. Placement Slovakia provides a very good support and helps students during their internship periods.
7, What do you think of the life-style in Slovakia?
I enjoyed a lot the life-style in Slovakia. Bratislava isn’t a stressful city, has a good public transport system and is a very safe city, I didn’t have any problem there. Slovakia, in my opinion, seems a good country to do an internship or to work, there are a lot of job opportunities there.
8, What did you find as the most different from your usual environment, country? Was there any culture shock?
I didn't feel any culture shock. Of course, there are some differences such as the traditional meals and the greetings between people, however, in general it's not very different.
9, What did you like the best here in Slovakia?
First of all, the locals were really nice. I was not expecting such a warm welcome, especially in the company I worked in. I had the opportunity to share my Erasmus+ internship with lovely people. In general, Slovaks are very friendly, kind and generous.
Furthermore, I enjoyed a lot the traditional food and drinks, and the nature; I fell in love with High Tatras. Slovakia has really nice natural scenery!
10, Did you have enough time to travel and explore Slovakia and neighbouring countries? Which places did you visit and what left the biggest impact on you?
The public transport in Slovakia is cheap and good, so it's possible to travel easily. We learn a lot when we are travelling, that is why travelling is one of my favourite pleasures. Slovakia is located in the middle of Europe, and that is fantastic! I had the opportunity to explore some neighbouring countries, such as Austria, Hungary, Poland and several places in Slovakia such as Košice, Poprad and Nitra.
11, Which moment of your stay in Slovakia has been the most memorable for you?
I have several memorable moments from Slovakia. Actually, I feel as if I have lived another life in Slovakia, I felt alive. There is a famous quote that says "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone", in my particular case, I couldn’t agree more.
12, What are your future plans after finishing the internship?
After the internship, I will start my master degree in cyber security, as it's one of my favourite fields in computer science.
13, Is there anything you would like to say to students still deciding whether or not to do an internship in Slovakia?
I chose Slovakia to do my internship and I will never regret. It was an outstanding experience. Placement Slovakia provides very good support and if you apply for an Erasmus+ traineeship here, you will be in good hands, surrounded by people willing to help you. Just take the chance and boost your future!