Anna Lapre ’25 was certainly not in Tennessee anymore.Outside, the air was a pleasant 70-something degrees, far cooler than a sweltering Appalachian summer. Surrounding her were clusters of picturesque, pastel buildings and people speaking in a foreign language. If she listened closely she might catch a hej or a god dag. No matter where she was in the city, canals were nearby—a novel sight for a girl from a landlocked state.
Lapre was in Stockholm, Sweden, for the SPRINT Signature Summer Internship Program. More than an opportunity to build skills, the internship was a way for her to experience life abroad: to participate in customs like fika—“there’s no direct translation, but it’s sort of like coffee break”—navigate public transport, and explore the storied city.
The SPRINT LINK program, which matches Brown students to internships, has three entrepreneurship programs abroad: summer internships in Germany, Sweden, and Israel. Partnering with the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, the programs seek to “expand classroom knowledge to the world of business through an immersive professional experience.” The locations— Berlin, Stockholm, and Tel Aviv—are significant as major cities “where start-up culture flourishes.”
The program pairs students with start-ups and small businesses. In Berlin, for example, students can apply to work as a social media intern at an art supply start-up, an investment analyst for a regenerative agriculture company, or a development engineer at a NewSpace firm. Placements tend to have a focus on tech. Lapre was a software developer for Southern Lights, a green hydrogen tech company based in Sweden.
Students say they like working at start-ups for the flexibility and intimacy of the environment. Scott Petersen ’25, an intern at a Berlin operations intelligence start-up, appreciates the versatility of his role. Although his official job is “venture architect,” he has the freedom to work on projects in marketing, business, and sales. Chantal Moawad ’24, in Tel Aviv, praises the flexibility of her schedule: “We work at our own pace, and it’s still efficient, but it’s better than just faster and faster.” Lapre says she’s gained hands-on experience and feels like part of a team, rather than an anonymous presence taking on cumbersome tasks. “You feel like there’s a lot of impact your work is going to have.”
Beyond offering industry exposure and a flexible work environment, the internships give students the opportunity to gain an understanding of different cultures and work environments.
For Petersen, the values he learns from living in Germany are just as important as the skills he gains from his job. “Being kind and open to everybody is very important. I don’t speak any German, so it’s very important to be very polite and courteous to everyone because I need help.” He also notes that Berliners gave him some important lessons in self-expression–“they’re very open about who they are.”
Moawad agrees with Petersen. With no experience learning Hebrew, she stresses the value of communication and cooperation: “[The experience] did teach me to work with other people in other forms of language.”
When the interns go home, they will all take more from the experience than another bullet on a resume. As they wave auf wiedersehen, hej då, and shalom to living abroad, the interns will have gained a sense of value in their work, new vocabulary, and an appetite to see more of the world.