One of the determining factors as to why I chose to study abroad with IES Abroad, as opposed to the hundreds of other options that are offered, was the opportunity to have a part time internship, along with my academic classes. Throughout my time at my home university, I had a variety of internships and work opportunities in my field of communication studies in areas of journalism, public relations, social media, and advertising.
I am definitely someone who LOVES to learn. I’m not just saying that as a cliche- I really love to learn. I enjoy doing homework and I find solace in a classroom setting. Maybe this is because I was raised in a classroom, since my mom has been a teacher for 35+ years, maybe I’m naturally a teacher’s pet, or maybe I’m just weird.
With my love for academia and education, I am constantly trying to find ways to challenge myself. Like I said, I am definitely comfortable and at home in a classroom setting, but not so much in a work setting. The internships and jobs that I’ve had throughout my college career have been some of the most challenging, yet valuable educational experiences that will benefit my professional career. Through IES Abroad, I found that I was able to foster my love for school in a traditional setting, as well as continue to challenge myself outside of the classroom in a professional work setting by having an internship.
For my internship, I am a part of the marketing team for a small UK company that aims to help newly located individuals and families in the UK. I focus primarily on creating social media content, but also have done tasks such as magazine writing, creating surveys, and event planning.
My company consists of six other women who are all from different parts of the world. This has been the most eye opening experience of the entire internship, as it has allowed me to be exposed to different languages, cultures, and backgrounds that I previously had not been aware or understanding of.
With that being said, the workplace is definitely the place where I have experienced culture shock the most. Although it is a valuable experience to gain professional experience in a new country, it can also be extremely overwhelming. Leading up to my internship, I was obviously very nervous, especially in anticipation of the unknown experience I was due to encounter. Although I have quickly adapted and learned some of the differences between working in the UK vs the US, the job is still daunting.
Often, I feel a sense of imposter syndrome, self doubt, and skepticism of my abilities. I struggle with having confidence in the workplace, strongly engaging and contributing thoughts, and frankly, sometimes, feel like an outsider. Sometimes, while your friends have a day off and are out exploring, you’ll have to stay behind in order to fulfill work obligations, or attend a work seminar. I’m stating this not with the intent to scare others who are seeking an internship abroad away, but to share the side of things that are not so glamorous.
The truth of the matter is, work is work. Not every job is going to be your favorite, sometimes you wake up in the morning excited to get to work, and others, there is nothing you dread more. I’ve found that this is more of a universal theme, rather than an isolated study abroad situation.
However, what I can say is, the best you can do is make the most of every opportunity. I do not regret having an internship abroad in the slightest. Working in London has helped me realize and learn so many things, such as that I LOVE the fast paced style of working in the city, how to learn from others from different cultures or nationalities, navigating being on time with using public transport, as well as tactical fields in my field such as creating and analyzing customer surveys, and using graphic tools to make social media content.
If you have any desire to see what it's like to work in a different country or if you’re contemplating having a career abroad in the future, I think that this option can be very beneficial, so go for it!
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<p>Zoe Rodriguez-Willie is a senior at California Lutheran University, majoring in Communications with a minor in Sports Management. She is a Southern California native who is a connoisseur of European soccer and a major proponent of women’s sports. When she is not cheering on Barcelona or the USWNT, you may find her at Disneyland, the beach, or with her cat, Willow.</p>