"My name is Tobi, I am 24 years young, and I am part of the master’s programme “International Business and Economic Diplomacy” at IMC FH Krems. During my studies I already gained economical and political knowledge on international level, which made this trip the perfect practical experience, where I could use the know-how and skills I gained at IMC to better understand the real live situations I got exposed to at the center of foreign trade in Santiago de Chile.
Starting the Journey
This journey really caught me by surprise. Usually, the applicants know 6 months before the departure that they got accepted for their traineeship and what country they will go to. I had three weeks. Why? Because the trainee who was supposed to go cancelled last minute, which opened the opportunity for me, and I just had to take it! I booked the flights five days before departure and found an apartment the day before the flight. Off I went, to a country I didn’t know anything about, without speaking Spanish, but with the excitement and thrive of adventure.
Arrival and Traineeship
After a long flight I finally arrived in Santiago the Chile on Sunday, August 14th, 2022. The Tuesday after my work started, which means that I did not have a lot of time to acclimate. However, I got a warm welcome in the office, and I got along with the team very well from the beginning on. The trade commissioner, Drazen Maloca, took the time to get to know me and I started to understand the importance of the Austrian centers of foreign trade. It was really interesting to see how Austria and Chile are economically tied to one another and how investment opportunities are being created by bringing together key players of companies, organizations and political institutions from different countries.
Work and Experience
So, what does the work as a trainee look like? My main tasks were research, mail service, preparation of presentations, creation of social media postings and the actualization of the economic reports. I also got the experience of attending a meeting for EU delegates where foreign investment reforms were discussed (and I got to meet interns from other EU countries, which I became close friends with), and I was able to join a business breakfast where lawyers introduced the reforms in the fields of taxation and immigration. To give the reader an idea of the topics I got my hands on I will briefly give an overview: Renewable energies and green hydrogen, referendum of the constitution and political situation in general, e-commerce, infrastructure and railway, mining, building the largest telescope in the world, economic kpis, beekeeping, zebu congress, ropeway as public transportation and freeway toll systems. I am sure that I forgot a few, but this list should give an impression on how diverse the work at an Austrian center of foreign trade can be.
What I realized during the work in Santiago is that my studies really prepared me for working internationally, understanding political and economic activities from different countries and that I had no issue with understanding the situations that I was involved with.
Chile and Green Hydrogen
One of the first things I learned is that Chile wants to become the world’s cheapest producer of green hydrogen, which can be produced using renewable energy making it a carbon neutral energy source that can be easily transported. Since Chile is the longest country of the world, it offers a large variety of landscapes and climate. It offers a region with one of the highest sun exposures in the Atacama Desert in the North as well as one of the windiest regions in Patagonia in the South. This means that the country has the perfect conditions for creating green hydrogen in large quantities, exporting the good around the world and helping to lead the essential energy transition.
If you can go, go!
I only spent six weeks working in Santiago de Chile, which is crazy when I think about the knowledge I gained about the country itself, its ties to Austria, the political and economic situation as well as the opportunities international relations can bring to solve the challenges we as humans are facing. Going abroad is always an adventure but doing that while getting insights into the work of a foreign center of trade, living in that country for over a month, making new friends and spending time with locals is an even more valuable experience. Don’t be shy, if you got the opportunity to do a traineeship like this, then take it. Even if it means to travel around the world, to a country you know nothing about with only 3 weeks of preparation."