Marketing Internships Abroad
What’s it like to study and intern abroad in Dublin, Ireland as a marketing student? Zoey Bloom, Spring 2016 alumnea, shares all you’ll need to know about balancing her internship abroad and living in one of the best cities in the world.
Q: Why did you choose an internship abroad?
A: I chose an internship abroad because I knew that I wanted to study abroad for a whole semester because I wanted to really integrate into the culture of another country, but I also wanted to build up my résumé even more. As an International Business major, trying to intern in a foreign country was a great idea because of how important globalization, cultural sensitivity, and adaptability in the workplace are. I learned about those skills and more while interning in Dublin, and since I’ve been back in the US, I have always been asked about this experience in job interviews because of how unique that experience looks on my résumé.
Q: Why did you select Spring 2016?
A: I had studied abroad in France in the Spring 2015 semester. I was a sophomore at that time, so once I realized that I wanted to live abroad again, I knew that the second semester of my junior year would be my last opportunity. Even though I was running out of time in my academic schedule to do a full semester abroad, I was able to fit a schedule full of classes that all counted towards my degree because my Dublin program offered such a large amount of business and humanities classes that made creating an schedule very easy.
Q: What was the placement experience like?
A: My experience with my placement was great. I worked with a close-knit group of women at a market research firm that operated in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The ladies at my office loved listening to pop music and eating chocolate during our downtime, but they were also very hardworking and results-driven. They were professional, courteous, and very knowledgeable about how to best gather market intel for our clients.
Q: Which company did you work with?
A: I worked with a market research firm based in Dublin.
Q: What was your typical day in the life like?
A: I would typically start a day by answering client emails and calling to schedule mystery shopping with our shoppers in both Ireland and the UK. I always took a lunch break and would run out to get a sandwich nearby (or treat myself to a burrito from Pablo Picante, the most authentic Mexican food I’ve found in Europe and the #1 thing I miss when I’m abroad). Sometimes I would sift through focus group information to pull out important points to pass on to clients, or I would edit spreadsheets with shopper schedules. There was a lot of account management, scheduling, and customer service in my usual office day.
Q: What was it like working for an international company?
A: It was interesting to pick up on Irish work habits and corporate culture. The Irish are more casual and laid-back, but they are also very driven and straightforward. I learned how to not only work hard, but enjoy myself in the workplace and take a chocolate/tea break when needed; that’s another thing, Irish people love tea and will drink it constantly throughout the work day.
Q: How did you manage your time between your internship commitment, classes, social activities (including balancing time between study abroad friends and locals) and travel?
A: I did a lot of time management between my hours at my internship and my class work, but my internship was for class credit, so even when I was at my placement I was working to earn a grade for that. I spent a lot of time exploring cool coffee shops where I could get homework done near school or near my placement when I wasn’t busy, and I tried to work ahead as much as possible so I could be free to travel on weekends instead of do work.
Q: Was there ever point where you questioned your decision? If so, what did you do to overcome that and how do you feel about it now?
A: I never questioned my decision to do an internship abroad because I knew just how helpful and interesting my experience working in a foreign country would be in my job hunt. I feel like the idea of working abroad can intimidate people because it takes you out of your comfort zone even further than just being in a foreign country does, but CEA placed me in a company that was full of kind and driven people who made me feel like part of the team from Day 1.
Q: What recommendations do you have for developing a good relationship with your co-workers and your supervisor?
A: I recommend that you stay open-minded and show them that you have a strong work ethic. Work hard, focus on your tasks, and offer any other help you can give. Employers abroad look to young Americans for tech savvy, work ethic, and determination, and showing that through your work helps. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something; this is as much a learning experience for you as it is work experience. Open and honest communication shows that you really care about the work and you’ll always impress people with intentionality.
Q: What did you learn that you can apply to your future career?
A: I learned to ask for help when I need it, to always be open to learning new things, to keep an open mind when you encounter people who are different from yourself, and to look for ways to go above and beyond whenever you can.
Q: What success tips do you have for future internship students in?
A: Pre-departure planning: Think carefully about what industries you might want to work in, and come up with back ups so that you have placement options. Have an updated version of your résumé to send when interviewing before you leave. Be open minded about where you’re placed, since you will absolutely learn something valuable wherever you work. Pack work appropriate outfits!
First week of work: Be upfront about your availability so that you don’t miss out on CEA excursions or school breaks. Try to clarify exactly what they will expect from you in your position so you can plan to deliver the best work you’re capable of.