Why did you decide to intern abroad with Global Experiences in London?
Emma: I was majoring in journalism during my undergrad, which required me to do an internship within that field. I was also minoring in global studies which required me to do a study abroad. I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone and fulfill both requirements at the same time. I also really wanted to go to London because I am half British, and London has a thriving media scene. I knew it would look really impressive on a resume because not only would I have work experience, but it would be in another country - not many people can say they have done that. I began researching internships abroad, and came across Global Experiences. When I looked into other programs, it seemed that none really did placements for media/journalism jobs. But when I contacted GE, they immediately went into action and located an internship with the student entertainment magazine, Verge, an entity under MTV. It was a perfect match, and Verge seemed keen for me to do the placement with them.
What made this internship experience unique and special?
Emma: I was insanely nervous on the first day. We had been given an address and start date, and not much else. I didn't have a smart phone so I was just going off a memorized map when I ventured to Battersea where my internship was. I marched up and down the street and was almost reduced to tears because I couldn't find the building. I eventually caved and called the manager of Verge who was so nice and laughed, saying I was an hour early and pointed me to a cafe to wait with a cup of tea until he got there. That's when I realized how laid back it was and my stress level went down immediately.
Everyone at Verge had a great sense of humor, especially the manager. They were all very easy going and asked me what I wanted to write about. The very first week, I got to go backstage at a concert and interview an artist. The article was published in the magazine and I was so proud to see my work in print. I got to go to music festivals and photo shoots. It definitely helped me come out of my shell because I was given a lot of responsibility and trusted to complete numerous tasks, which often involved me making phone calls, approaching strangers, and running all over the city. Often, we would all go out for a drink afterwards, so I didn't feel like another out of place, faceless intern, but a valued member of the team.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Emma: When the internship was over it was a very bittersweet feeling. I had made some amazing friends and fell in love with the city. I loved London so much that after completing my undergrad, I came back to complete my Master's in International Journalism at City University London. I didn't feel like a tourist anymore because I had already been here for 3 months and knew the city because I had gotten lost countless times in it! My manager was one of my references and probably played a large part in helping me get into the program here.
I've gone on to do an internship with the BBC and Friends of the Earth, and I definitely think it was my prior work experience in London that helped me get them. I just received my British citizenship and I'm planning on finding a job in the media industry here. It's definitely a cut-throat, competitive environment, but the skills and confidence I gained from my first internship will definitely help me get to where I want to be.
What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad in London?
Emma: Don't just consider it - do it! When a potential employer looks at your resume, they will be blown away to see that you've worked in a professional environment abroad - it gives you an edge. It really shows that you are courageous and driven, and it's a great talking point in an interview. I still keep pieces of work I did for Verge on my website/portfolio to show that I've been published in England. You will go through culture shock and get homesick, but you will grow so much as a person. Always have an open mind, the people you come into contact with during your internship could help you land a job in the future, or if nothing else, be a great reference!