Cultural Experience | United Kingdom

My Personal Growth Moment Abroad: Interning

the most rewarding aspect about this personal growth moment was realizing that post graduation life doesn’t have to be scary.

By Vicky Saperstein, Marist College

College life is a lot different from the real world and I learned this the hard way when I interned abroad in London. I went from having Fridays off and free time during the day the semester before to working full time, four days a week and taking two other courses. I went from walking 10 minutes to class to commuting for an hour on the Tube. Initially, I thought to myself “how am I going to do this everyday?” and there were times that I felt overwhelmed. I felt overwhelmed because I lacked free time during the week and instead of staying up to talk to family or friends back home, I was in bed early. It seemed like all I did was work, come home, eat dinner and go to bed. This was hard at first but the experience was eye opening because one, it gave me a glimpse of the real world and two, I grew to love my internship placement. I didn’t mind the commute there and back, as I kept myself busy with reading or listening to my iPod. I didn’t mind waking up early because I knew that I had a responsibility to be at work and knew that people were relying on me to be there. Looking back, I wouldn’t have traded my experience for anything. I learned so much about the advertising industry and grew as a professional, as well as a person.

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I had the pleasure of interning for an advertising and digital marketing agency named Other Creative. Right from my interview, I knew that I would love the internship. I walked in and was greeted by this woman named Sophia. The office was very unique with bright lime green accents, crazy lighting fixtures, tree branch artwork all over and the coolest hidden door. Yes, the bookcase had a hidden door that led to the library. This is where my interview took place. I was told about the tasks I would be responsible for and went around the office to meet everyone. To be honest, I was a little intimidated but everyone was friendly and seemed excited to start working with me, which made me excited to start working for them.

It was not all fun and games and I did face some doubt, as well as some frustration. I was given tasks like load the dishwasher, grab milk (for the tea) from the store, set up the meeting room and then clean up after the meeting was over. Also, making tea and coffee for our clients that would come in. At first, I did not know how to react to these tasks. I wanted to do more than just these pointless, silly tasks. I also experienced culture shock for the first time, as I was working with all British people. They had different phrases and slang that I could not follow, as well as a different type of humor. I come from New York, where sarcasm is a second language and sometimes that was not understood by my co-workers. It was frustrating. For the first initial weeks, I felt like an outsider and looking back, this was the biggest difficulty.

When I felt any doubt or frustration, I began to realize how incredibly lucky I was to be abroad in London and be given the opportunity to work in an advertising agency. This is when I turned the bad into the good. I asked more questions about the work I was doing and the different phrases that I did not understand. My co-workers did not mind answering my questions and they had questions for me about America. I did not mind loading the dishwasher because later, I would get a task that I really enjoyed. As time went by they trusted me with more work and no matter what I did, I was always given feedback. I always got a thank you and really felt appreciated for what I was doing.

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The weeks flew by and I really enjoyed the company of my co-workers. I loved the office culture; it was a small company with open, bright space. Everyone was brilliant and the dynamic of the team was spot on. I was invited to sit in on meetings with the creative team and was asked for my personal input. I began to feel part of the team. My co-workers were not afraid to joke around and we made day trips to help us get inspired. For example, we went to this amazing Light Show, followed by lunch and drinks at the pub. It was fun to be part of the team and even though I was only there for a short time, I miss Other Creative. There was no sense of hierarchy and the bosses were approachable. In fact, I talked to the owner of the agency everyday and he was always willing to answer any of my questions. Every Friday, we drank wine together and for birthdays, there was always cake. In fact, everyday there were some type of dessert in the kitchen. In addition to all this, everyone was productive and highly motivated to get their work done.

The most memorable experience for me was my last day. My abroad experience was coming to a close and this was upsetting. I did not know what the plan was for the day but it was unforgettable. Instead of doing work, we spent my last Friday at the pub, eating England’s traditional bangers and mash, as well as drinking ciders. Everyone from the office came to this lunch and I was thanked with a gift. I mentioned that my wallet broke and there I was with a new wallet and thank you card. I was truly touched that everyone made the effort to sign it with messages of encouragement. I was also given the sample of my work that was placed in one of their pitches. After the workday was over, we headed to another pub and this is where I had to say my goodbyes. I was not ready to say goodbye and tried to delay it as much as I could. When the time came, I fought my tears back and was once again touched to hear all the positive words coming from my co-workers. I could tell that they cared about me and my future career in advertising. I looked back at the times where I felt like an outsider and could not believe it. How did I feel like an outsider with these people? With people who hugged me countless times goodbye and helped me reinforce my love for advertising? I was proud of myself and I left feeling more confident as a professional. Leaving that pub and walking to the Tube for my final commute back to my flat was hard. It hit me hard because I was leaving London and this internship that I loved so much.

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I reflected more on my interning experience when I returned home. I came home and went back into my routine of working as a cashier and realized that I missed advertising. I missed the craziness and the unexpected events that would happen on a day-to-day basis. As a senior, it is difficult to think about post-graduation life with loans, debt and a full-time career. I will miss college life so much but now I know to appreciate every moment I have left. The most rewarding aspect about this personal growth moment was realizing that post graduation life doesn’t have to be scary. If I go into interviews with confidence and preparation, my personality will shine through and I will land the job that is right for me. Other Creative helped me realize that work life is stressful at times but can be rewarding and fun. Everything happens for a reason and although, there will be rougher times in life, things will work out as they are supposed too. This applies to everyone so please take my interning experience and apply it to your life. The message is strong, it is if something is scary or overwhelming, do your best to push through it and the result will be truly rewarding. Every mistake we make makes us a stronger person. It is up to you to take the good out of the bad. I have learned that every experience has a valuable lesson attached to it.

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Vicky Saperstein

Marist College | 12 stories

Vicky Saperstein is a senior at Marist College. Her favorite things include her dogs, the New York Yankees, photography and her friends. She is a communications major with a concentration in advertising and a photography minor. She is also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Last semester, she studied abroad in London, England and fell in love with it! Her dream is to travel the world with her camera.

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