Alumni Spotlight: Cooper DeStefano

Cooper is a senior computer science major at the University of South Carolina.

Photos

Why did you choose this program?

Due to my major and position as the president of a student organization, I didn't have the time to study abroad during a semester. The Intern Group provided a great opportunity for me to go abroad over the summer, and I'd heard great things about it. I had a lot of choice with the Intern Group. I could pick from a ton of major cities to intern in, and once I decided, they gave me a choice of several companies to interview with.

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

The Intern Group laid out steps for me to follow to get my visa and apply for everything I needed to work abroad. Once I was in the program, they found me housing and set me up with interviews with multiple companies until I found one that I liked. Once I got to London, they had several events all the participants were involved in. They got us tickets to the London Eye, a West End show and a high tea lunch. They also provided me with a metro card for the subway system for my first month.

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

I'd definitely say that people should brush up on their cooking skills. Going out to eat can be fun, but you're going to have to make some meals for yourself. I'd also say to look into the company that you're interviewing with. I wasn't a fan of the first company the Intern Group set me up with, and when I said so, they set me up with more options until I found one that I really liked.

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

I think that everyone in my program had a different experience. My roommates and many of the people in our building were on this same program, and we all had different internships. My internship let me set my own hours and weren't very strict if I had to miss work because of a weekend trip. There were a lot of group messages, so every week I was able to find something to do or somewhere to go out with my friends or a larger group.

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

As a gay person, I'm always a little nervous in an environment where I don't know people, especially in a city I've never been too. I was able to find a lot of other LGBTQ+ people in my program who I hung out with. We went to gay bars and London Pride and I had a lot of fun. One of my program leaders was a part of the LGBTQ+ community and was able to make some recommendations of places we ought to visit.

What did you come to learn during your trip?

I think it's really important to craft your own experience. I know that I need time to rest before and after I go out, so I planned trips around that. Figure out your bucket list of the things that you want to do on your trip and go over it with your friends. They might have their own list of what they want to do, but that'll all just add to your experience.