Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, significant changes have taken place in the Ukrainian education system. In Ukraine, more than 1,500 educational institutions were destroyed or damaged, including schools, colleges and universities. Many students were forced to leave their homes and educational institutions and continue to acquire qualifications or work abroad.
WorkSpace Europe has been mainly coordinating international Erasmus+ internship mobility projects for universities within the Erasmus+ program countries. Thanks to the flexibility allowed by the European Commission related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we decided to modify our Erasmus mobility project in 2022 to help Ukrainian higher education students to come for internships in Bratislava. We prepared a unique concept offering students from Ukraine a full package Erasmus+ experience in Slovakia: internships in our cooperating, well-known international companies, accommodation, Erasmus+ grant allowance and our full support before, during and after the mobility period. This way they not only get a chance to move to Slovakia but also gain a valuable practical experience in reputable companies as well as meet Erasmus trainees from other countries. That is all in the frame of the European Union program Erasmus+, which they mostly knew before only as an international mobility program for studies.
Looking at the students of our 1st turn, we can say that this project is a great success and we are planning to continue cooperating with Ukrainian universities and have been already preparing the internship mobilities for the 2nd turn starting in January 2023.
Erasmus+ internships abroad are an effective way to gain international work experience as well as a new network for future professional and personal life. We talked to Kristina, Kateryna, Valeriia, and Svitlana, Anna- our Ukrainian interns, and asked about their experience in Slovakia, impressions, and advice for future trainees.
“Be positive and be thankful for the opportunity given to you.”
Kristina Komova is a graduate student in the Faculty of Foreign Philology and Social Communications at Sumy State University in Ukraine. Since the 6th of April, she has been on an internship in the Customer Care Team within a global company based in Bratislava.
“At the time of the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, our universities and schools had ceased to function. Erasmus+ was a great real opportunity to survive and continue to develop. And thanks to WorkSpace Europe for providing an internship opportunity for students from my university ‒ that is actually why I chose this program”, - Kristina shared with us.
Kristy remarked that she would recommend this program to Ukrainian students because it is a great opportunity to gain invaluable experience and to get the highest levels of English while earning a little money. Currently, she got an extension of the internship.
“Do not be afraid of starting something new even if you have zero experience in it.“
Kateryna Hrek is another student of Sumy State University from Ukraine. As for now she is an intern at the Parts Logistics Department in the International Business Company based in Bratislava.
She was responsible for creating tracers, providing invoices, returning labels etc. to stakeholders. As for now she is taking care of several European countries, checking reports if there are some delays and carrier performance.
“This whole field is new for me but nevertheless pretty interesting as well. Thanks to this experience I understand logistics as a process and see it from another side, because usually we experience it as customers and have no idea how hard a logistician works in order to provide customers with their parcels in time.”
Kateryna admits that the main benefit for her from participating in the WorkSpace Europe program is understanding how big companies work and all the experience that she is getting here. Moreover, Kate received a job offer after her internship and has now been enjoying her employment and all its benefits related to working in a reputable international company.
“Be ready to work hard and be ready to adjust to the rules quickly of a company”
Valeriia - student of International Economic Relations faculty in Uzhhorod national university, Ukraine:
“This is a real experience which can teach me how to interact in the workspace, how to communicate in the business environment. The program seemed interesting and valuable to be passed for gaining a new practical experience.”
She said that it was a great opportunity for people to work and learn at the same time. If they are really ready to be self-independent and self-cared, then they can add more acquired competencies to their CV, having international working experience and communication. It may be the cross-cultural environment to get the picture of the business world inside. The three indispensable lines in CV are equivalent to those three-five months of traineeship which may accelerate career growth.
“Don`t be so nervous, believe in yourself more and try to grasp every opportunity!”
Svitlana Hisem is currently completing her 2nd year of master's degree in Business Management at Kyiv National Economic University named after Vadym Hetman.
Svitlana supposed that this work opportunity opened a wide circle of perspectives for her. She became more confident, critical-thinking, open to challenges, ready to take a risk etc. Most of all, she enjoys cooperating with people from different countries and discovering new cultures. Thanks to this job experience she improved both soft and hard skills.
“The most beneficial part of my work was cooperation with my coordinator. He treats me like a colleague, not an intern. He is always ready to support me or explain to me how to deal with some tasks in case I am struggling with something. In addition to this, I am fond of my work environment and literally it`s the first time in my life when I wake up every morning with a pleasure waiting for the beginning of my new work day. Atmosphere in the office motivates you to study more and improve your skills and competences day by day. Besides work, I am hanging out with other interns and trying to grasp every opportunity to meet someone new.”
“Don’t be afraid to take risks. Is life challenging you? Accept it.”
Anna Kurylo is a student of Kyiv National Economic University named after Vadym Hetman. She is currently doing her internship as a member of the WorkSpace Europe team.
Anna shares that she is assigned various, but equally interesting work. She writes articles, creates flyers, looks for ways to connect with partners and communicate with them.
“Try it, it's extremely interesting and useful! Never be afraid to take a step in the wrong direction, because it can open up an exciting new world for you and lead to the career of your dreams.”
The girls are sure that if there is an internship opportunity, you should definitely take advantage of it. An internship is a great chance to test your practical skills and understand the real world of work waiting for students after their graduation. Thanks to the Erasmus+ program you can do this in a foreign country, practicing English or other foreign languages and meeting wonderful people from all over the world. WorkSpase Europe team is looking forward to continuing to provide Ukrainian students with these unique opportunities in 2023.
Karol Ovesny, Director
Anastasiia Shevchenko, Project coordinator
Anna Kurylo, Erasmus+ trainee