An American Intern in Sweden

My life-changing experience. Learning about professionalism, culture, and myself through an internship abroad.

4 April 2023 | Blog

Ella Jahns, EF Gap Year Intern

If you asked me a few months ago whether I could imagine working at a non-profit job in Stockholm, Sweden, I would have thought you were joking. But now, after spending two months in this beautiful country, I’ve learned so much about professional life, myself, and another culture that made me feel like I belonged there, even though it was thousands of kilometers away from my home.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous about starting my internship at Mentor International. I had never worked in a real company before, so I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. But when I finally arrived in Stockholm, I was so excited to start, even though I was also really nervous. I remember walking down the cobblestone streets, trying to find the door of the office building, feeling like a little kid pretending to be an adult.

But as soon as I stepped through the doors of the office, I knew that I was in good hands. The Mentor International team was so welcoming and kind, and they made me feel like part of the team from day one. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t, and I knew that if I needed help with anything, there was always someone I could go to.

Ella Jahns with Sabrina Starke from Absolute Internship
I sat in on a number of meetings with strategic partners to learn more about their business, but it also gave me an opportunity to share my own experience.

During my first week, I learned so much about working in a professional environment, including how to use Microsoft Word, LinkedIn, Teams, and Outlook. My supervisor, Elise, was so supportive and helped me every step of the way. Plus, with flexible hours, I was able to explore Stockholm and experience everything this amazing city has to offer. From wandering the streets of Gamla Stan to visiting the many museums, I felt like I was truly living the dream.

But it wasn’t just about the work – I also got to participate in Mentor Boosts and Inspo, which helped me understand the company’s core mission and connect with local kids. It was amazing to learn about Ikegai and see how it was helping these kids expand their horizons and consider new career options. And it also got me thinking about how I could make an impact on the world.

Ella Jahns with Elise Alpen from Mentor International
Lunch time was a perfect time to connect with colleagues. It also gave me a chance to try local cafes and restaurants, like Stiernan Ramen.

During my time at Mentor International, I was not only lucky enough to receive support and guidance in my work-related tasks, but also to get some incredible local recommendations for things to do in my free time. My colleagues were eager to share their favorite spots around Stockholm, from hidden cafes and shops to beautiful parks and museums. It was amazing to immerse myself in the local culture and truly feel like a part of the community, while also deepening my work experience through my internship. I truly felt like I made the most of my time in Stockholm and broadened my horizons in so many ways.

Overall, I feel so grateful for this experience. It has guided me and impacted my future in such a positive way. I will never forget the amazing people I met, the things I learned, and the memories I made during my time in Stockholm.

Ella Jahns with Louise Ricknert from Mentor Sweden
Exploring surroundings was almost half the learning experience. Colleagues were always eager to share information about where to go in Stockholm.

About the author

Ella Jahns was an EF Gap Year Intern at Mentor International from February to March 2023. Ella is a recent graduate from Littleton High School in Littleton, Colorado, USA, having completed her studies in May 2022. Throughout her high school career, she dedicated her time to several volunteer programs, including Meals on Wheels and Period Kits, and served as an incoming student tour guide. In addition to her community involvement, Ella has also had the opportunity to travel extensively, having visited countries such as Sweden, France, Costa Rica, Australia, Thailand, Mexico, and Alaska, among others. Her interests and passions include plant care, dogs, scuba diving, psychology, personal development coaching, and entrepreneurship. Her awards include being a Future Business Leaders of America 1st Place District Winner for Business Creation, Meals on Wheels Volunteer of the Month, and a member of Littleton High School Homecoming Court. Ella’s latest plan in to become a pilot!