Adapting as an International Intern (level 2 post)

I have spent my six weeks in London interning in the finance department of Clic Sargent. Clic Sargent is a non-profit that provides living accommodations, grants, and social services to families with children and young people fighting cancer. I had few expectations going into my internship mainly because I had not yet held an internship position, let alone one in a foreign country. I anticipated menial tasks to start, as well as heavy supervision, until I had proven myself. However, I was pleasantly disproved. I was taught on day one how to process invoices and code the expenses to their appropriate budget lines, all of which I was entrusted to do on my own soon after being instructed.

Aside from processing invoices, I was given a handful of other projects to work on independently. One of my favorite and most rewarding projects involved analyzing Barclay card expense returns from the past four years in order to reclaim Value Added Tax (VAT). By the time I finished this project, I recorded over £10,000 in VAT that could be reclaimed and used to issue more grants. Through my work on this project, Clic Sargent will be able to issue about 20 new grants, helping 20 more kids and families.

In terms of forming relationships with coworkers, I felt welcomed from the start. However, it was not until the last couple of weeks that I felt like I had truly formed relationships with my coworkers. At that point, though, I became close enough with some of my colleagues which allowed me to learn a lot about what it is like to work in London and having to commute. For example, one coworker told me that she commutes three hours to work and three hours home every day. Without forming this friendship, this conversation likely never would have come about. This is due to the fact that my office tends to be pretty quiet when it comes to things unrelated to work. Most people do not chat about their personal lives, which made it slightly more challenging to form connections in the beginning. However, as time went on I was able to observe which colleagues would tend to be more outgoing and receptive to small talk.

By the time I reached my last day of my internship, I felt like a part of the office and was sad to be leaving. Several colleagues from the finance department took me out for leaving drinks and gave me a nice parting gift, which made my last day even more bitter-sweet.

In terms of advice for someone interning abroad, I would say to have few expectations. In my experience, thinking too much about what an internship experience will be like will often lead to unnecessary anxiety and possibly disappointment. Going into the internship with an open mind allows one to get the most out of it and to learn things that they might not have otherwise expected to learn. As far as forming relationships with colleagues, it’s always good to ask how their weekends were or how their commute was. These are safe topics that nearly everyone can relate to, and it often provides insight into the lifestyles of people who live and work in London. Ultimately, the international internship experience has been amazing for me, and I would recommend it to any student considering it for the future. It’s a great way to gain hands-on experience while also getting outside of one’s comfort zone and experiencing a new side of studying abroad.