From cycling to island hopping: Looking back on my internship at Nordregio

Working with Nordregio’s incredibly skillful and welcoming team, I could develop my own skills in research methodology and gain some valuable experiences in project management, that will no doubt be helpful wherever I end up in the future.

Over the past four months I have been working at Nordregio as an intern. I spent the first half of the internship both studying and working on campus in Denmark since I could integrate the internship into the curriculum of my master’s program in urban planning. For the second half of the semester, I packed up my things, sublet my room and moved north to work on-site, in Stockholm’s beautiful Skeppsholmen. I want to give some insight into my experience at Nordregio to inspire others interested in an internship at this highly down-to-earth institute of experts.  

Nordic Cycling Power Network

During the initial interview I was presented with several projects that could be interesting for me to work on. Having grown up in Germany’s cycling capital and now living in Copenhagen’s bicycle paradise, my natural choice was the Nordic Cycling Power Network project. The purpose of the project is to facilitate knowledge-sharing between Nordic decision makers and unlock the potential of the bicycle in the green transition of the transport sector. When I had just started working at Nordregio, the project was taking off, which was both an exciting and demanding phase to join the project. But through my participation in the research and the many project meetings, I played an active role in shaping how the project came to life.  

As well as working on the cycling project, I could also join a variety of other projects, pick up some smaller research tasks, and sit in on different meetings and interviews on topics such as integration or cross-border governance. The all staff Tuesday-meetings were a great way to pick up a fresh croissant and coffee, meet new colleagues, and listen in on all the interesting projects that are conducted across the Nordics and Baltics by Nordregio. They were also an opportunity to gain an insider understanding of how a research institute operates.  

Life in Stockholm

Stockholm is an amazing place to live. Wherever you are, you are probably close to the water, and there are so many different cafés, museums, public parks, and bars to explore. My favourite activity was boarding one of the ferries right in front of Skeppsholmen and taking a day trip to one of the islands in the Stockholm archipelago. There are also many fun social and after-work activities, such as Nordregio’s sports club, where I could meet my colleagues outside of the work environment to jog around the island or play a game of Kubb.

Some Useful Advice

Coordinating an internship, university and moving countries can be challenging and stressful, but throughout the semester I had great support from Nordregio’s intern-team. Their assistance in searching for accommodation in Stockholm and help in settling into the new city made juggling all these tasks so much easier. To students coming from the EU, it is good to remember that as a university student you can apply for an Erasmus+ scholarship for the time working abroad. Lastly, even though speaking a Nordic language is an advantage for doing some of the research tasks, it is by no means a requirement for participating at Nordregio, where the everyday language of the office is English.    

Final thoughts

Apart from what is arguably the most beautiful work commute in the city, this internship at Nordregio has been an exciting opportunity to pursue my personal research interests, but also peek into other fascinating fields in rural and urban planning, that I was less acquainted with.