For August Oberbeck, ’17, an internship at Raymond James, a diversified financial services firm, in Munich, Germany, was a perfect fit.

“I was interested in investment banking as well as the idea of working in a foreign country and focusing on cross-border transactions. The idea of doing deals between different countries and navigating all of the various challenges that provides was intriguing as well,” says Oberbeck, a leadership studies major and history minor.

Oberbeck had visited Germany before with family and had spent a semester in Berlin through study abroad but notes that this experience was different from his previous visits.

“I wanted to go back after studying abroad there for several reasons,” says Oberbeck. “I wanted to see a different side of Germany that I hadn’t really experienced before, as living as a student and working in a country are profoundly different experiences, and you meet different people and do very different things.”

During his internship, Oberbeck worked on projects like researching different companies; creating industry research reports; compiling and building company databases; helping research and create pitch books, information memos, and management presentations; and some financial modeling.

In his day-to-day work at Raymond James, Oberbeck noticed plenty of cultural similarities in the office, citing examples of employees going to lunch together and workplace events, such as a Summer Olympics event in which employees participated in different sports. But there were cultural differences as well.

“There is a different attitude regarding vacation time, and even though the business often involves very long hours, all the employees are given around 30 days of vacation where they are not interrupted by work,” explains Oberbeck.

Oberbeck notes that his favorite part of living and working in Germany was learning more about the people and their culture through everyday interactions. Still, interning in a non-English speaking country presented its own set of challenges for the native New Yorker.

“Some of the challenges are differences in culture on just some basic ideas and norms, and although everyone in the office was fluent in English, they spoke to one another in German, making it hard to understand what they were saying to each other on many occasions,” Oberbeck remembers. “In Munich, most people’s English is very good, so there are not usually too many problems regarding that; however, it is still a little awkward and difficult when you do not know how to say something in German.”

For Oberbeck, the key to getting the most out of his experience as an intern abroad was learning to proactively engage with people: “In the beginning, it was difficult to engage with other people, as they were often working, and it seemed to be intimidating; however, as the internship progressed, I, through being proactive and in asking to help out, was able to engage with my coworkers on a stronger level beyond basic formalities, and this enhanced my experience significantly.”