Ask The Ambassador: Q&A With Our Alumni Ambassadors
Curious about what it’s like to pursue an international internship experience? Our Alumni Ambassadors, Juliet Watkin-Rees and Mateusz Andrulewicz from The University of Birmingham UK, interviewed each other so you can learn more about each of their experiences with The Intern Group last year.
1. Where did you go?
JULIET: I spent 6-months interning at a marketing agency, iris Worldwide, in New York, whilst living in the Upper East Side with other TIG Interns.
MATEUSZ: Last summer I was interning for a digital marketing agency called Dragon Social at their Hong Kong office as part of a 6-week programme with The Intern Group.
2. What was the best part of your experience?
JULIET: It is very hard to pinpoint one element of my international internship experience with The Intern Group as it was all absolutely life changing. However, it truly was so special to take part in the ‘everyday’ experience of New York, beyond the tourist traps and flashing lights. I was so grateful to wake up in such a legendary city each morning and become a ‘New Yorker’ for six months – even the commute was fascinating. (Although it is rumoured to take 7 years of living in NYC to become a true New Yorker!) Every day there was something exciting to go to or witness, whether it was an amazing street act, a new rainbow coloured food to taste or basketball game to attend! I already can’t wait to go back and live there again. It gave me an insight to working and living internationally, which has only encouraged me more to travel and experience other vibrant cities.
MATEUSZ: I would say the best part of my international internship experience was creating this new life in a completely different country which at first I felt very remote from. It sounds daunting jumping straight into an internship in an overwhelmingly busy city, but in fact, it could not have been made easier through The Intern Group’s support network. This aids you from the moment you set foot in your destination and gives you a head start to adapting and creating a completely new routine. I really enjoyed the working environment, but at the same time I wanted to make the most of Hong Kong. So every weekend I made sure I was really exploring the city with fellow interns and ticking off everything I could possibly do in the 6-week period! It is so reassuring that if I ever needed to work abroad or leave the UK, I would be able to adjust to life in a completely different culture/environment very quickly. It also widens my horizons when looking for jobs in the future.
3. How did you discover The Intern Group?
JULIET: When looking for other opportunities to studying abroad online I stumbled across The Intern Group and decided to do further research. I was really excited by the opportunity to gain international internship experience in New York but found myself still a little hesitant to sign up. This changed when I saw that the University of Birmingham regularly partnered with The Intern Group to place students as well as offering a discount to the overall programme. This really proved to me that I could trust what The Intern Group was offering (which sounded too good to be true!) I knew the difficulties of getting a J-1 visa to intern in the United States without backing so therefore The Intern Group’s sponsorship would really ease the process. It also was a huge selling point to have accommodation sorted out for you in a safe, young environment near fellow interns.
MATEUSZ: I regularly attended UoB’s Careers Network events to make sure I was giving myself the chance to apply to the best opportunities offered for students. I was at a Work Experience Fair and came across The Intern Group stall. After talking to the representative and further research I decided this was an ideal way to spend my summer and a great option to live abroad in a new city. I really liked how the programme would guide me through my internship whilst giving me the chance to meet other young people living in the city. The Intern Group saw the importance of quality internship experience as well as making the whole experience fun.
4. What did you learn from your international internship experience?
JULIET: I learnt an invaluable amount from my internship, perhaps most importantly to have confidence in my ability and potential. It is amazing what throwing yourself into the deep end will prove you can cope with and succeed in. It is so important to keep challenging yourself by taking on opportunities to continue to grow and progress. I also learnt not to dwell and apologise too often for making a mistake; in a working environment it is key to learn from your mistakes but also to swiftly move on. You are human and not going to be right all the time; your employers understand this.
MATEUSZ: The biggest lesson for me from my international internship experience in Hong Kong was that some things are simply out of your control and you can’t prepare for everything. Instead you simply have to acknowledge that this is a part of travelling and gaining experience abroad. No matter where you go or how prepared you are, there will always be an element of culture shock. Do not stress; let yourself take time to adapt and understand that this is part of the process. Also, whilst at your internship, they’re not going to expect you to be an expert in your field. As an intern, you have the opportunity to learn and develop as you go. It is amazing how much you can learn in such a short period of time.
5. Do you have any tips for future applicants?
JULIET: Find a special way to record your time interning; it is such an incredible time of self-development and experience that it is really worth treasuring forever for you to look back on. At the time I wrote a diary everyday and after I made myself a detailed photo book online (as a result of taking millions of photos). Some of my fellow New York interns made amazing video compilations. Others created their own blogs so people could follow their experience. Experiencing the Women’s March (January 23rd 2017) in New York will forever be the most empowering, incredible day and I am so glad I documented the day in the moment for me to look back on for years to come.
MATEUSZ: Try to plan your free time as much as you can to truly make the most of it. The time will fly as you will be having so much fun and will be so busy. You don’t want to look back and think you didn’t complete some ‘must see’ sights or take part in special local/cultural events. Researching before will not only prepare you but it will also really excite you. As a result of my research, many other interns came to me for ideas of what to do and it helped me to get to know more people – so you will reap the benefits!
For further information or friendly advice from Juliet or Mateusz, see their emails below!
“The Intern Group provided an ideal alternative to studying abroad as part of my American Studies degree that would enhance my CV. I was beginning to worry about my lack of quality, lengthy work experience and it holding me back from finding a job after university. I decided to look at options to work and truly immerse myself in the United States.”
“As a first year International Business student, I really wanted to make the most of my summer and get worthwhile international experience in an exciting company to boost my career prospects. When I found The Intern Group it proved to be the perfect option to make this possible.”