My two-month internship in the Contemporary Old City

I study tourism in Karelia University of Applied Sciences, and I did my third-year internship in the “Contemporary Old City: Enhancing cultural tourism across the border” project (Karelia ENPI CBC). I chose to do my internship in the project because I wanted some new experiences and my previous knowledge of working in the project was mainly from my studies, so it was not very extensive. I found this project from our school’s website, and it whetted my appetite for getting more information about it.

This project is closely connected with my studies, mainly because they cover tourism. With them, I learnt about international cooperation, as the project is about developing culture tourism across borders, which means collaboration between North Karelia in Finland and the Republic of Karelia in Russia. I found out how different cultures have influence over the cooperation and how different working habits may set some challenges. But I also found out how rewarding successful cooperation between different cultures can be.

During my internship, I got to do a lot of different things. For instance I planned marketing, helped to arrange a conference, helped to develop websites for travelers, went through some promotional and other materials produced in the project and took part in developing a new tourist route. I’m glad that I got to do some concrete things, instead of just listening and standing by. I have a feeling that everything I did was useful, at least to some extent. I was given as much responsibility as I was ready to take, but I also got support and help every time I needed.

In my opinion, I benefitted a lot from this internship. I learnt a lot about planning and arranging an event – there’s a surprising number of little things that we usually don’t even think about. During the arrangements of the conference, my knowledge about the network of regional operators increased, and, while evaluating the usability of the VisitKarelia website and developing the new tourist route, my knowledge about the region improved.

Besides that, I got to do different kinds of tasks and, for example, took part in meetings, I found out what working in a project is in reality. My instructors told me for instance about the budget and cooperation with project partners. I realized how much concrete output these kinds of projects actually produce. I’m sorry to admit, but I thought that project outputs are usually more like projections, but at least in this project something concrete was done. I believe that our outputs will enhance cultural tourism in North Karelia and in the Republic of Karelia.

It was kind of challenging to join a project that had already been going on for a while. What made it challenging was knowing everybody involved. But little by little I got to know new people and found out how they were linked to this project.

At some times during my studies I felt convinced I would never work in a project because project work seemed to me monotonous, discontinuous and not that productive or rewarding. This internship changed my mind. Now I actually can see myself working in some interesting project. Only precondition would be that it would involve something in practice and less sitting in the office. These days, working from home is often an alternative for working in an office. In this project, I had an opportunity to try working from home. It was a good experiment: I just needed to make sure that I had tasks to do (there was always something, so that wasn’t a problem), and things would get done. I learnt that some tasks are easier to complete in an office and some tasks are better done at home.

Even though my internship took two months, I think I only scratched the surface of project work in its entirety. But, nevertheless, I can warmly recommend projects (especially this one) as training jobs!

Thank you, Anu, Erja and Timo, for these past two months and for this rich experience.

Have a sunny spring!

Elina Hämäläinen
Third-year student in Karelia UAS, Tourism (marketing)

Text is also published in Karelia ENPI-CBC programme’s blog Aspects on Cooperation.

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