Julianna: Make the Most of your Internship Abroad

Hello from London! It’s been an incredible semester of traveling, exploring London and getting to learn more about myself outside of my comfort zone. Allow me to digress on the latter. As the cliche goes, studying abroad really is a life-changing experience. Since January I have tackled bouts of homesickness, eased out of culture shock and got into the habit of taking myself out on day-dates to markets, museums and cafes (my next “date” will be a spa day in Bath!). As the semester winds down I find myself not only reflecting on my growth, but on my time at my internship. Since the end of February I have been working at Columbus Travel Media as an editorial intern for its website, World Travel Guide (www.worldtravelguide.net). As part of the in-house editorial team I have written and pitched feature stories, worked the company’s social media and learned how to edit photos and publish content to the website. With only one week left at my internship, it’s the perfect time to give some tips to those of you who plan to do a BU abroad internship program.

1. Be specific about the type of internship you want

Internships at BU London are sourced by a private placement company called EUSA. This means each student in the program is assigned a EUSA placement manager who goes through the process of finding and landing an internship for you. Sigh of relief. With having to apply for a VISA and other important preparations it really is such a plus to not have to worry about the internship hunt. However, your input is extremely important. Several weeks before leaving for London I had a meeting with a EUSA representative to discuss my internship preferences. I was very specific about my interests in journalism: please, nothing to remotely do with hard news and instead more along the lines of travel, life and styles. Since I aspire to work in magazines, I also mentioned specific London-based magazines that interested me. Well, I ended up not being placed at a magazine, but I definitely got what I asked for in terms of travel journalism, which leads me to my next point…

2. Be Open Minded. Always.

Okay, so I wasn’t placed at a glossy. At first I was a little bummed, but as I prepared for the pre-internship interview I got even more excited about the opportunity to work in travel media whilst experiencing a semester of frequent weekend jaunts to mainland Europe and other UK destinations. And so I started off my internship with a) a gut feeling that I would love it b) an open mindedness to honing my skills in online journalism and social media. On day one my positive initiative proved successful. Right away my editor put me on assignment to write a feature and offered me the opportunity to go on an overnight press trip to Oxford and to write a feature out of it. Well, two weeks later after going on this awesome press trip I came to one of the most important realizations since coming to London: I definitely want a career in travel journalism.

3. Prepare for your interview

Get to know yourself. Well, your professional self. Think up potential questions that your interviewer will ask such as, what are your strengthens and weaknesses? Then jot down your responses and say them out loud to hear how you will respond. Have your resume, or as they say here across the Atlantic, CV, in tip-top shape and know what certain past projects or jobs you would like to delve into during the interview. Always do a thorough Internet search on your company. For journalists, find out the company’s targeted audience and read recent articles or watch/listen to the latest programs. Since you’re in a foreign place look into how to get to your office several days before the interview, so you can arrive with time to spare and a good sense of your travel route.

4. Immerse yourself in the office culture

Interning abroad means you will undoubtably experience a different professional environment than what you’re used to in Boston. For instance, I’ve learned that it is common courtesy to ask the rest of the staff if anyone wants tea before I go to the kitchen to refresh my cup. Oh on the topic of tea. If you come to London get used to tea as your new pick-me-up — you can drink lots of it throughout the day without getting caffeine jitters.


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