Disappointing experience with the London program.

Growth: 1
Support: 1
Fun: 10
Housing: 3
Safety: 8

I definitely recommend interning in London, but not with Global Experiences. I did research on several providers, and I specifically chose GE because they had so many career fields to choose from. I graduated with a Communications and Media Studies degree, and I hope to go into journalism. The other providers had a general “communications” field which I worried was too broad, so I was excited that GE had a specific field for journalism. I officially applied in March, with journalism as my career field and marketing as my “second choice”.

Quickly after submitting my application, I heard from the Regional Enrollment Manager. In our initial phone conversation, she asked for more detail about what my ideal internship would look like. I told her that I would love to work with a creative publication, and ultimately, I am very flexible. The examples given on their website are “LGBT News Organization”, Independent Music & Entertainment Magazine”, and “Leading Political Magazine”. I told her that anything along those lines would be incredible. A few days later, I was officially accepted.

I asked for more detail about how the internships were selected. She said “A lot of work goes into our vetting process prior to placing any participants with a certain company in order to ensure anyone placed there will have an amazing experience.” She listed a few more examples, such as “Journalism for Prestigious Magazine” and “Editorial Intern at Leading London Publisher”. By then, I felt assured and officially made the deposit. In mid-April, she asked me to schedule a call with the Director of Internships, who would be my point of contact going forward.

Fast forward to the end of June. The director finally sent an update, saying that internship interviews are typically in late July and early August. By the beginning of August, I had not heard anything. I asked for an update, and she told me that the placement team “has your profile out to a number of employers and they anticipate hearing back shortly!” I asked if she had any timeline and she did not answer, but a couple days later, she sent a general update to all the participants. She provided the information about our housing, and said that she would “be in touch” about internships. The participants had provided all our documents needed to apply for a visa, but the internship needed to be secured first. At this point, the program was scheduled to begin on September 11th.

The next week, I finally heard about a placement. She described the company as an “online marketing agency”, but in reality, it was a marketing department for a company that installs phone systems. In fact, their website does not even mention the word “marketing”. I asked why I was not given a journalism placement, and she said that all the journalism opportunities were still fully remote. I looked at the marketing section of the GE website, and all the examples of past internships were traditional marketing agencies. I was willing to compromise on an actual agency. The next day, she presented one, and I immediately scheduled the interview. The interview was with one of the two founders, and he revealed that instead of working for the actual agency, I would be working for his separate startup, which was centered around video game betting. The main game is one centered around murdering as many people as violently as possible. Later that day, I was presented another placement, which was for a company that teaches children about creative writing. I was disappointed that all the placements were so niche, but that one was the closest to my original goal, so I agreed to it.

Nine days before the program was scheduled to begin, the director sent an email to all the participants, saying Covid was slowing down the biometrics appointments and processing time of sponsorships, which meant that we would likely be arriving late. The next day, she told me that the children’s writing company changed their mind about going back to their office. She asked: “What would you say to interning with [video game company] in person, but a remote internship component with [children’s writing company] as well?” I responded: “I would need to know what my week would look like. If it would be balanced, that would work, but I’m not particularly interested in doing a majority with [video game company].” She said that she will “see what we can do”, and that my Certificate of Sponsorship was delayed because they needed a clear photo of my transcript, and I had to remind her that I sent it to her back in July.

On September 7th, four days before the program was scheduled to begin, I got my Certificate of Sponsorship and I was able to schedule my biometrics appointment. The next available one was not for a few more days, so I had to reschedule my flight. She attached a PowerPoint filled with requirements and fees that had never been mentioned before, such as mailing my passport to New York to have the visa added. On the 13th, I had the biometrics appointment and mailed my passport. On the 20th, it came back, because I paid for priority mail. Eventually, GE refunded the fees (because they were already included in our tuition) and the difference for changing the flight.

On September 23rd, I finally flew to London. At this point, I did not even know my work schedule. In an attempt to set everything straight, I emailed the Director of Internships, the London Placement Coordinator, and my boss at the video game company. Unfortunately, everyone was on a completely different page. My boss was never told that I was planning on working with two companies, and I was embarrassed by GE’s lack of communication. The director told me that she was “waiting to hear” my schedule with the video game company before reaching out to the children’s writing company. Then, the coordinator told me that I was required to work full-time with the video game company. She said I had the option to do additional work for the children’s writing company, but as you can imagine, I was not interested in doing more unpaid work outside of a 40-hour work week.

Finally, I got a schedule from the video game company. It was scheduled to be remote for three days a week, and in-person for two days a week. The work was with the one boss, at a rented table in an office space. He was extremely nice, and the other employees that I met virtually were too, but the startup was not equipped to take on a full-time intern. For the first few weeks, my boss did not come to many of the in-person days. Then, he was dealing with an injury, so the internship became fully remote for the rest of the program. I was essentially an on-call intern. My boss was rarely online, but I had to be, on the off chance that I would get an assignment. Every single morning, I asked him what I needed to get started on. Most days, I either didn’t hear anything until the afternoon, or I didn’t hear anything at all.

The coordinator threatened me, saying that if I did not follow this schedule, immigration services would quickly find me and kick me out of the country. However, the director had previously told me that participants have switched internships in the past, so I asked her to clarify. I brought up a marketing/PR firm that two of the other participants were assigned to, which was clearly a much better fit. I heard that they were looking for extra help, and ironically, their office was right across from my office.

I felt like the director was not understanding my concerns, so I asked my mother to call her. In that call, the director became much more apologetic. She emphasized that she would do whatever she could to make it right, and that she would speak to their staff member in London who is three levels above the coordinator. A week later, she told me that she had the meeting and that the “most recent guidance” is that “visas cannot be adjusted once they are issued”. I know that Covid can change things, but ultimately, a company dedicated to sending people abroad should be on top of understanding the official government rules. The email was practically all corporate speak. I sent a thorough response, accepting that the circumstances couldn’t be made better, but asking her to at least own up to her mistakes. She never answered it, and never contacted me again.

She had previously mentioned that she would be visiting London in the middle of the program. She even told me that she was looking forward to taking me out for a coffee. The participants officially found out about her visit through an email that the coordinator sent to all of our bosses, cc’ing us. It said that we needed to be able to leave early for a “mandatory networking event”. The “networking event” was literally just a pizza party. The participants were all eating together upstairs. At this point, we had all known each other for a month. The director was chatting with other staff members downstairs. She never bothered to come up and introduce herself to all of us. If we wanted to meet her, we would have to approach her and interrupt her conversations. The co-founder/CEO of GE was also there, and she behaved the exact same way.

While I ultimately made the most of the experience, GE did not give me what I paid for and I know that the other participants feel the same way. My hope is that they learn to respect their customers and to take responsibility for their actions.

Would you recommend this program?
No, I would not