FORGET STUDY ABROAD: TRY INTERNING ABROAD!
“This is Clara, our summer intern. She’s American.” This is how my boss introduced me to the artists and guests I met while working at sketch, a trendy, Two-Michelin-starred restaurant in London’s Mayfair district.
Never had I thought of being American as something worth noting, but then again, I’d never had to think of being American at all. (At that time, my only trip outside the states was to Canada.) Aside from broadening my spelling sensibilities (it’s parlour not parlor), working abroad for six weeks in London provided me the experience of a lifetime.
HOW I GOT IT
That summer of 2016, I had signed up for a 6-week study abroad program called Literary London through my college, Miami University. Along with the 7 credit hours I took, there was an opportunity to work in an internship while there, one that I would be placed in by AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study), an institute that organizes study and work abroad programs. A word to the wise: If you have the opportunity for an internship placement without having to search for it yourself, take it. A week before I flew across the Atlantic, I got an email that told me my placement at sketch.
WHAT I DID
My title was “Creative Writing Intern,” one that I’m sure I’ll never have again. sketch is a tea-room-turned-art-gallery-turned restaurant that is almost too whimsical for words. When I walked in to meet my boss and the HR director, I found myself in a forest of flowers: they had brought in world-class gardeners to line their hallways and dining rooms with real flowers for their May exhibition. My role was to translate the whimsy and beauty of sketch into digestible content for their website.
I worked in the marketing department on the second floor of the building, and I came in two days a week. I revised the content already on their website, talked to the restaurant managers to create a more efficient description of their restaurant hours, interviewed artists and wrote pieces on their exhibitions, and described my experience in each of dining rooms.
The internship was unpaid, but they paid me in high tea at the end, which was more than alright with me!
OFF THE CLOCK
The conversations I had outside of work were as noteworthy as the ones that I had on the clock. It was fascinating to watch American events and politics unfold from the BBC. My coworkers watched in shock as the Orlando nightclub shooting flashed across the screen in the lunchroom, asked me how and why Trump was so successful in the primaries, and wore black in mourning when the Brexit bill made its shocking pass in June. In addition to giving me insight into a foreign professional environment, I gained an insight into the political and social mindsets of people across the pond.
WHY YOU SHOULD INTERN ABROAD
It was this internship that made me realize I could make a professional career out of writing—and that I didn’t have to work for a publishing company or a newspaper to work with words. An employee with writing skills can create content for any company in any industry—even a restaurant!
I 10/10 recommend that you seek an internship abroad, too. Here are the top three reasons why:
- Never again will you be able to secure a work visa as easily as you can for an unpaid summer internship abroad. Take advantage of it now!
- You will gain cultural literacy and versatility that will stand out on your resume and in interviews.
- It’s the most fun work-play situation you’ll ever have. You’ll gain valuable work experience while on what’s essentially a summer-long tourist trip. Intern by day, sightseer extraordinaire by weekend. Bon Voyage!
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