Most interns go into their intership hoping to learn a few skills, make some connections, and determine if they want to pursue (or maybe don't want to pursue) this particular career path.
2017 London Summer - Internship alum Carson A. (Indiana University), was definitely in the camp of "testing things out" during his internship program a few years back and exemplifies the benefits of going into every experience with an open mind, because you never know what could happen.
We checked in with Carson to hear more about his internship experience, his advice for prospective interns, and how his internship abroad helped him with some core career competencies.
IES Internships: Can you tell us about your internship experience abroad?
Carson Addington (CA): I was very lucky to be placed in my internship with a management consulting firm, Korn Ferry, in the summer of 2017. During my summer, I was able to work alongside a creative team of marketing copywriters, designers, project managers, and senior directors that worked with developing employer value propositions (EVPs) for a variety of Fortune 100 companies in the UK. I was exposed to many different workstreams in my summer program. Spending time with each area on the overarching team was the main goal of my program. Learning from copywriters on what makes good copy, working with designers on creating beautiful digital designs for webpages or employee/candidate collateral, and working with the project manager who oversaw everyone's timelines, budgets, and client needs. While in the program, I was mainly attracted to the client relationship piece of this creative team and that is where I spent the most time.
IES Internships: How did it get you into your current career today?
CA: After graduating from undergrad, I then applied for the Korn Ferry New Graduate Start-Up Program. Having previous experience working with the firm as an intern abroad made my application stand out. I initially started with Korn Ferry working on a digital sales team, which was far from the initial marketing creative team experience I had abroad. After working at the firm for around a year I began networking internally to find something that resonated with my marketing passions. I then found a group of people who essentially took over the team I interned on while in London. After a few interviews, I found myself back where it all began, but stateside.
IES Internships: What have you been working on since joining the team remotely?
CA: I started on the team as a brand business partner for my creative director. Assisting in meetings, managing specific projects, building out presentations, and some creative proofing and approving. I was recently promoted to our Product Marketing Manager who oversees our creative team and product. I work with our internal and external designers and copywriters to make sure we understand a client's brand, from the tone of voice to visual direction, and making sure we are creating materials that blend seamlessly into their creative ecosystem.
IES Internships: Are there any ways you can encourage students to “trust the process” if they’re nervous or unsure about their internship placement (or going abroad)?
CA: All experience is good experience. I was fortunate to be placed in an organization that challenged me abroad but then gave me the opportunity to start my career in the states. This might not happen to you, but rest assured, the initial internship work experience and the friends you will make along the way will be worth it enough.
Traveling abroad for the first time alone was definitely a scary eye-opening experience. Having IES to help guide and take the burden off those first initial days in the country were my saving grace. The program they have created just works! No YouTube video can prepare you to fully step outside your comfort zone when entering a new country, it is just something you have to experience to understand. Take that first step and enjoy the time you have abroad.
Carson's Advice for Future Interns
IES Internships: A big focus of our internship programs is career readiness, particularly those competencies defined by NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers). Are you able to speak to how your internship experience helped you in any of these capacities?
- Communication: The IES internship program greatly enhanced my communication skills. I was thrown so far outside of my comfort zone that the only way to survive was to communicate with my internship coordinator Beth, my internship boss, and the other students also in the program. There was no time to think about being socially awkward or misunderstood. Being abroad 1,000+ miles away from your family and friends forces you to communicate with others who are experiencing the exact same thing to really thrive.
- Critical Thinking: While in the IES internship program you are working for a REAL company. Your work has real-world outcomes. It is not a test for a grade that, if you forget to study, then the only fault is your own. The clients we were working with had large problems they are outsourcing to firms like Korn Ferry to help solve.
My first week of the internship was spent on a bunch of client calls learning about all these different problems our team was scoped to solve. Status updates, presentations, and in-person meetings were all things that made this experience transformative. I eventually reached a point where I started contributing to the conversation and I understood the assignment enough to feel comfortable speaking out and providing my opinion when working with the team and clients.
- Equity and Inclusion (including Cross-Cultural Skills): I am glad this is on the list! Unbeknownst to me at the time, I did learn a thing or two about Equity & Inclusion while in my internship. I grew up in a predominately white, small Midwestern town. This upbringing was amazing and humbling. However, this upbringing did not prepare me for a cultural shift of moving to a large city or traveling abroad. I had a lot of unconscious biases that developed when growing up the way I did.
While abroad I heard more languages in one day than I have ever heard in my entire life. I saw different people practicing different religions outside my beliefs. I tried new foods outside my comfort zone. I experienced a wide variety of uncomfortable feelings when I was in a crowd of people who had a different culture and looked different than me. I began to embrace all these differences and really understood how closed off my life previously was to the rest of the world.
I began to realize that not everyone has the same outlook on life as I do. Not everyone believes in the same things that I do. I have since been able to reflect and understand those initial unconscious biases and overcome them. My Midwestern upbringing is a part of my life and story but it doesn't fully define me as it did in that moment abroad. I am but a collection of imperfect experiences learning something new each day.
- Career and Self-Development : The IES internship program forced me to come out of my metaphorical shell. Growing up in a small Midwestern town, I had not been exposed to a variety of cultures and mainly worked in blue-collar work environments prior to the internship. This program allowed me to develop a variety of global skills I still use today when working with international colleagues.
The career development journey I have been on with Korn Ferry has been all thanks to IES Abroad. I would have had no idea of this company unless I had this internship. I'm grateful for my internship as it provided me with tremendous career development and even impacted the careers of a few of my friends who I have referred for internal roles. One choice has created this beautiful butterfly effect of outcomes not just for myself, but for my friends and family.
“One choice has created this beautiful butterfly effect of outcomes not just for myself, but for my friends and family.”Carson A. (IES Internships London | Indiana University)
Thank you, Carson, for sharing your incredible experience with us!
Or, if you’re ready to take the next step and apply for an IES internship, explore our full-time internship programs.