Alumni Spotlight: Katie McDonald

Twenty-year-old creative Katie McDonald recently travelled to London this July/August to gain an insight into the advertising world with Absolute Internships. Katie now lives in Perth where she attends the University of Western Australia majoring in Marketing and English. Katie wanted some practical experience during her last year and thought what better way to combine a valuable internship with some travel, to experience a month in the life of a Londoner.

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How has this experience impacted your future?

Katie: I hope that having a completed an advertising internship in London, supposedly one of the most buzzing and creative cities in the world, will open many doors in the future for my career in advertising.

I interned with a very young company in Shoreditch called Nucco Brain, who specialize in animation and animated advertising and it gave me a feel for how everything actually operated in the ‘real world’. Most of the employees came from many different European countries so it was interesting to see the cultural mix in a professional setting.

I got to write blogs, interview people, meet clients, complete a PR release form and conduct market research; these are some of the things I have learnt at UWA so academically I could now see the real-life value of the stress of last minute cramming and the all-nighters spent on assignments!

By interning abroad you get the chance to meet some really cool people and now that I’ve had a taste of London, I just want more! I can definitely see myself living there some time in the future.

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.

Katie: Part of the Absolute Internship program included a weekend trip to Paris - it was très manifique! We got to picnic next to the Eiffel tower, climb the steps in Monte Marte and catch up with Quasimodo, but most of all we got to eat lots of incredible food! Paris may be the capital of love but it is also the capital of snails, frog’s legs and crêpes.

You may think you have tried crêpes before – those thin pancakes one could easily whip up at home? No! You have not lived until you’ve undergone the Pursuit of Crêpes in Paris. Nothing beats a traditional French crêpe… I had five crêpes in one day (yolo).


There are so many variations – sweet or savory, nutella or cheese and ham, sugar or lemon juice, knife and fork or paper bag, sit down restaurant or market stall – either or is just as good. My personal favourite was the nutella and strawberry mix that melts in your mouth, the ooziness teases your taste buds until they’re finally satisfied with the first bite. A must-have food for sure!

Do you feel you got a chance to see the city from a local's perspective?

Katie: Working in a country is a very different experience than simply being a tourist. You feel like a ‘local’ and go to some of the places ‘only the locals know about’, you finally master catching the tube and you start walking really fast everywhere - because everyone in London seems to be in a rush no matter what time of the day.

You even start giving people directions. That’s not to say that we didn’t do all the typically touristy things - we rode on the famous London Eye, watched the changing of the guards, ate some Yorkshire pudding in Covent Garden, saw the Lion King and much more. One of my favorite days was when I went off on my own to watch Anthony and Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre.

My Citymappers app stopped working and I just continued down all these winding streets that I recognised from passing by on bus trips in the last couple of weeks. I continued walking in a direction lead by my gut instincts, which turned out to be right! At that moment I felt like a local, a real Londoner.

It is those times where you get momentarily lost that turn out to be the best – you see a side of London untouched by the hands and unseen by the eyes of tourists; you see London for the enchanted and old charming city that it truly is.

Brighton Pier

Do you think your program changed you as a person?

Katie: I’ve been on exchanges and travelled with friends before so this experience wasn’t the first time I’ve been away from home and my family for a long time, however I think it definitely tested my independence and ability to adapt to different environments. Some days the sun is shining and your day at work is buzzing and you have heaps of exciting projects to work on.

Other days its raining and you’ve forgotten your umbrella, lost your Oyster card and realize you’ve spent the last couple of hours completing a task completely wrong. But that’s life! I admit I am a bit of a perfectionist and I’m not happy until something is done exactly right.

Nucco Brain was such a chilled and friendly place to work at and I think this changed my perspective and expectation of having a job – we all have stuff we like to and don’t like to do, but either way you’ve got to get it done.

Nucco Brain taught me that you may as well enjoy every task whether you find it fun or not and as long as you give it your 100% that’s good enough. I now find I’m not so hard on myself when things don’t go exactly as I planned!

What made this intern abroad experience unique and special?

Katie: You can intern in your country, in your city or at the local business down your street - but they’ve all got one thing in common; they are all familiar. Sometimes the best learning occurs out of your comfort zone and I’ve found that when I experience something completely different that’s when I grow as a person.

Sometimes things live up to your expectations and sometimes they don’t - my intern abroad experience was unique and special because it ended up being an experience I could not have predicted.

eiffel tower

A lot of people have this expectation of an intern simply serving coffee and running errands – most of the time they made my coffee for me or we would rotate coffee runs.

Yes we ran errands from time to time but we also got to immerse ourselves in a creative environment and complete real-life marketing tasks. I had to adapt to this new job, a new city and a new method of transport.

I learnt more about advertising and marketing, but I also learnt a whole new way of life, I experienced a new city and made connections with people I know I would never meet in my small hometown city Perth.

That’s what made the experience unique and special - I not only took home an internship, I was exposed to a whole range of different and exciting things; I took home a chunk of London, a new best friend (who just happens to live fifteen minutes away from me… such a small world!) and a range of memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.