Praktikum in einem Start-Up in Paris

It sounds like a dream to live in Paris, work for a start-up, and be able to learn from so many different people, doesn’t it? It was possible for me to take the opportunity to make this fantasy a reality, and I did it cautiously so as to not have such high expectations and setting myself up for disappointment.

Although I am familiar with Paris and French culture, I knew that it would be difficult to get settled in at first and build my own support network, both professionally and personally. There are three different aspects I would like to expand on; administration and finances, professional development and workplace culture, and personal fulfilment. These three layers make up a larger sphere that is an overseas internship, contributing to various advantages and benefits that I am sure the reader is well aware of. The details, however, are also important.

Firstly, when it comes to finances, Paris is not a cheap city. According to a Deutsche Bank report from 2019, Paris ranks fifth place in the most expensive cities for rent. Since then, with various crises Europe has been facing, the problem of pouvoir d’achat has only gotten worse. Typically internships in France pay around 700€ netto, depending on the company you apply with, with additional tickets restaurants (food vouchers) of around 200€ per month, and 50% of monthly public transport costs. Monthly Navigo costs around 80€ per month for all zones. I received an additional 495€ per month from Erasmus, which helps a lot. Though this might seem like a lot for a student to receive monthly, I can assure you that with additional costs, it is very difficult to survive on a day-to-day basis. Unexpected costs related to housing, deposits, phone bills, grocery shopping, books, etc., can add up, so it is recommended to be careful with budgeting from the very start of the internship exchange. Furthermore, keep in mind that the final 20% of Erasmus funding will only be deposited after your period overseas.

Renting is probably the most difficult administrative burden when moving to Paris. There are student sublets over the summer period, but these are often precarious and exploitative. Unfortunately, most landlords attempt to squeeze out every last cent of unsuspecting students. This is why it is recommended to join student Facebook groups beforehand to ask for colocations (house-shares), or trusted websites like Gens de Confiance. Leboncoin and similar sites are a hit and a miss, and scams are aplenty in Paris. If you have a French student network, please use that to your advantage and don’t be shy to ask around for accommodation. To reduce costs further, consider staying in outer suburbs, but try to stay near public transport hubs (metro stations, suburban train stations), as Paris is quite geographically small and the system can be fast for reaching the centre. This cuts down renting costs significantly.

Secondly, in terms of professional development, Wooclap (where I worked) provided a seamless and wonderful on-boarding period of one month to help be get settled and familiar with the corporate culture of the company. I was able to have coffee chats virtually with colleagues from Brussels, and the office provided a nice way to exchange with people face-to-face after Covid. Using Slack and Notion helped me visualise my tasks and be clear about my duties. Weekly check-ups with my teammate (Sylvain) were very helpful and set me on the right trajectory. Personal connections were incredibly important, joining afterworks and becoming friends with colleagues, who in turn helped for daily issues in Paris. I am super content with the work that I have done at Wooclap, and I learned a lot of valuable things, especially about how innovative the jobs of the future might look.

Lastly, making friends was quite simple, though it requires to get out of the comfort zone. I felt like I was able to re-invent myself, be very out-going, to make the most of my time in Paris. Exploring the city alone and with friends, becoming more used to the language, political and social dynamics, and the culture were incredibly rewarding. I leave you with a beautiful sunset over the Seine.

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