Report from our interns Alexandra and Émilie, just back from Tunisia

January 6, 2020

Émilie and Alexandra have just completed a professional internship at the Entrepreneur Financial Centre (EFC) in Tunisia, which Développement international Desjardins (DID) helped set up five years ago.

Our two interns returned full of memories that they agreed to share with us. Here are some excerpts from their post-internship testimonials.

Being open to differences

“Despite the differences in culture, language and the continent we were on, everyone has the same goal in any company—making a contribution to its success. Of course, the means of achieving success and the work methods are different, and that is precisely what I learned during my internship.” Émilie

“In Tunisia, I learned to focus on the present and live for today. This enabled me to better appreciate each moment. From the start of my internship, I realized that in my day-to-day life I wasn’t taking enough time to stop or slow down because I was afraid of running out of time to do everything I planned to do. And so I’m returning to Quebec with the aim of making the most of each day and taking nothing for granted.” Alexandra

Learning about yourself and gaining insight

“When I left Quebec for Tunisia, I was well prepared and didn’t have any specific expectations or preconceived ideas. And yet the culture shock was very real! With my many travel experiences, I never thought this would be something I’d feel, but I realized I wasn’t immune to it. What am I taking away from this? Every new situation in life is a learning experience!” Émilie

“Prior to going away like this, you don’t realize how spending several months abroad away from your family, friends and surroundings can be a huge challenge that forces you to take a look at yourself. I’ve always been an adventurous person, seeking challenges and new discoveries, and it’s my strength of character that has allowed me to embrace every day while always keeping a positive outlook. The personal growth I experienced from spending three-and-a-half months abroad would have taken me years to achieve if I’d stayed in Quebec!” Alexandra 

Acquiring new knowledge

“I discovered microfinance and the impact that financial inclusion can have on a community, and how these two elements lead to greater equality in the world. I had the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs who received help from EFC to not only achieve their dreams, but to establish prosperous businesses in working-class neighbourhoods in Tunisia.” Émilie 

“My internship at EFC raised my awareness to another level in terms of community spirit and sharing. I realize that, in addition to offering my time, I can also share my expertise, my ideas and my knowledge, and that it’s just as gratifying for the giver as it is for the receiver.” Alexandra

A stepping stone to a career

“I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to go through a similar experience to jump right in with both feet. It’s incredible how much you can learn and accomplish when you step out of your comfort zone!” Émilie

“Gaining professional experience abroad is an excellent way to set yourself apart on the job market. As a young professional, it’s a highly rewarding experience—in terms of both skills and knowledge—that everyone should go through at least once in their lives.” Alexandra

Meet our interns

After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Université Laval, Alexandra Clouette has held various positions at Caisse Desjardins du Plateau Montcalm. Her internship at EFC Tunisia focused on marketing and business development.

Émilie Tanguay-Côté has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Université du Québec à Rimouski (Lévis campus). Since graduating, she has worked as a senior accountant and an assistant controller. She completed an internship in accounting at EFC Tunisia.

About international internships

In collaboration with the Desjardins Foundation, each year DID offers five internships where individuals can acquire concrete work experience in the field of international