Alumni Spotlight: Truett Killian


Truett is a Junior at Tufts University where he studies Film and Political Philosophy.

Why did you choose this program?

Early last year, I realized I was interested in studying abroad. However, sorting through my school's options was quite intimidating. I knew that I wanted to try something new, but I didn't know enough to narrow it down to a country or even a region.

One day, I was waiting for a meeting with my Dean, and I noticed a Red Tree flier. It read something like "Film Internships in Colombia." Though I hadn't thought of internships specifically, seeing it on paper made me realize it suited me perfectly.

Around October, I sent in my application, and I was accepted shortly after. The entire process, I was astounded by the organization and communication. Other programs seemed less personal than the CommonApp website, and so I really appreciated the faces that came along with Red Tree. I decided before winter break to confirm my acceptance, because I wanted to solidify my summer plans before Spring to avoid the stress of applications.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The single biggest thing Red Tree provided me with was an array of film companies to choose from as far as internships go. Other abroad services I considered promised "an internship" but scantly provided specifics beyond that.

Information on the companies Red Tree works with was easily accessible and helped me settle on a company that fit my specifications. Aside from internship placement, Red Tree coordinated my housing in Colombia. I stayed in a large high rise near La Candelaria (a really great location). My room included breakfast every morning and a daily cleaning service. Additionally, Red Tree promised two weekly social events. This included Salsa classes, cooking classes, unique restaurant experiences, and even a few weekend trips to other cities in Colombia.

I really enjoyed the program. Red Tree was also unobtrusive; if I didn't feel like attending a program, there was never any pressure. I found myself hanging out with the coordinators even out of these events, and I found them to be a great support system.

I don't know if this is specific to Red Tree, but I was also living with other students in the program interested in the same things as me. I found the prospect of making friends in a foreign country daunting, but Red Tree made it easy as I was surrounded by people like me. I can't stress enough how helpful this was. The only things I can think of that Red Tree didn't provide was my travel to and from Colombia and my meals aside from breakfast.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would emphasize that the more you ask from your internship, the more you will likely get. In my past internships, I've always found that companies have an infinite pile of paperwork to lop onto interns, but during my work in Colombia, I realized that when I clearly outlined my desires going in, I was able to spend all of my time doing things I wanted to do.

Knowing specifically what you'd like to do is really important. For instance, I said I was interested in working in post-production. My company not only set me up to work with their editing department, but I ended up being the Assistant Editor on a documentary that's airing on Colombia's biggest network. That far exceeded my expectations! Even if you don't know what you want to do with your whole career, asking for something specific from your internship will help you figure it out.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Most weekdays were fairly similar. I would wake up, get ready, and go to my internship. During my internship, I'd eat with my co-workers most days – which was really great. I'd get home in the evening, and try to organize group dinners with other people from my program. On some evenings, we would have movie nights; on others, we would go out to a bar or club.

There was such a variety of stuff to do that I really did end up trying a lot. Given that I was abroad, I tried to get the most out of my weekends. I tried to do the most highly recommended things from Trip Advisor on my weekends, and I found some awesome things with my friends doing this. There were tons of cool markets, beautiful hikes, and awesome restaurants to try when I started digging. The length of the program also allowed me breathing room, too, when I needed it.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I think that my biggest fear was how a foreign language would affect my daily life. During my interview, I was open and honest about my level of Spanish, and I was placed into a company accordingly. I was told I didn't really need to speak Spanish, and my friends who didn't speak much seemed to corroborate this. I spoke more Spanish than I originally realized, and I found myself learning more and more everyday. In general, people in Colombia were extremely friendly and patient when I was searching for a word.