For the beginning of this journey, we have to go back to September 2019. At this point, I attended the “Howest Internship market” (freely translated), an event organized by the school I attend where students have an entire day to make “speed-dates” with a lot of IT companies looking for interns. At first I wasn’t looking for an international internship per se but my interest gradually increased over time. One of my talks during the event were with someone who works at Accenture and who I had already met previously on Cyber Security Challenge Belgium 2019. Accenture is a company that is located in every part of the world. Their offer was an internship in their Cyber Fusion Center in Prague or in Brussels.
After this talk, my interest in an internship at Accenture and thus an international internship increased. To be accepted as an intern, I had to go through some kind of selection process, which only made me want it more. This process included some online math & logical thinking exercises as well as an interview talk in Brussels. Since I am making this post about my internship experience, it’s needless to say that I received an internship at Accenture 😀
The reason why Accenture got so much of my interest is because they offered something almost no other company could offer as an internship: work as a penetration tester on several projects over a period of three (and a half) months. This allowed me to develop myself in several fields of cyber security by learning from experienced individuals in a relative short time period. On top of that, Accenture’s clients are usually big companies and even government institutions from around the world, which makes the work more exciting to me.
This year, me and two other students of my school filled a total of three internship positions in Accenture CFC Prague.
Since this internship is part of our degree, us interns are usually not paid. However Accenture provided us with flight tickets and an apartment in the center of Prague. On top of that I also received an Erasmus grant.
I left Belgium in February this year. I had never visited Prague before. This would’ve not only been my first time in Prague but also my longest time abroad so far.
After walking around the city during the first week-end, it was time for our first day of work. On our first day we were brought to work by taxi, which made it a lot easier for us to understand the directions to work. At work we met up with our individual coaches and went for lunch together soon after. One of the cool things about CFC Prague is that a lot of people who work there also came to Prague from another country to work in Accenture’s CFC. I think the best way to describe what it’s like working there is that it feels more like you’re working with a bunch of friends instead of colleagues. And since we were in a big city, we often had the chance to have a beer on Fridays with our colleagues in one of many pubs nearby.
Obviously an international internship is not all about work. Since we were in one of the most popular cities in Europe, we had a lot of places to visit and of course some nightlife to explore during the week-ends.
March 2020 – Destiny struck 😷
We’d been following the COVID19 updates for a while already. Especially because Czech Republic was much faster in taking counter measures than my home country. In Czech Republic, schools closed nationwide after around ~30 confirmed positive cases. During the first weeks of March we were still allowed to go to the office, however entering the third week, this changed. We suddenly had to work from home. Even though our apartment was spacious, it wasn’t really fitting to work from home for an extended period of time. By this time, we were already asked if we’d like to get a flight back home or wanted to finish our internship in Prague. Up until the 19th of March, we decided we’d rather stay in Prague. Obviously our decision had changed pretty fast since the situation was developing very fast. By this time, the Czech Borders were already closed for foreigners for a couple of days. No one besides Czech residents could enter the country. At this point we decided to leave while we still could.
Again, Accenture was really fast in helping us out. They booked the only flight available for us for the next day (March 20th). So we had to quickly pack our bags, clean the apartment and be ready to leave. When going outside, the contrast between then and two weeks earlier was as high as it could be. Prague suddenly looked like a desert, no one to be found anywhere.
We weren’t only alone on the streets but also the airport was completely empty.
Accenture allowed us to continue our internship remotely from Belgium. Obviously it’s not ideal this way but there’s no difference in working from home in Belgium or working from home in Prague. At the end of this week, my internship will be over.
Probably the most shitty part about this situation was not being able to properly say goodbye to my colleagues. I’m looking forward to flying back to Prague to meet up with the team in better times 🙂