Prior to my departure for this trip, I did not have very many expectations as far as what I would gain out of my internship and classes. I had hoped that these experiences would provide me with something valuable, however, I anticipated that these aspects of my time abroad would be rather boring when compared to my independent exploration of the city. To my surprise, both my internship and classes have complimented my London experience quite nicely.
My internship is in the finance department at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House. A lot of the work that I do is at the intersection of accounting and finance, and while hospitality is not necessarily the industry in which I intend to spend the rest of my career, I have learned a great deal from my time in this position. I have gained a lot of hard skills, such as a hands-on, real world use of excel and its many functions. I have also learned a lot about finance in the hospitality industry (and otherwise) through my everyday tasks, of which include paying invoices, reconciling reports, etc. I have improved upon a lot of my soft skills, most notably my communication skills. Nearly everyone in my office is from outside of the United Kingdom. While this is not uncommon in London, it is not something you would expect to see over in the U.S. I have coworkers from the Philippines, Germany, France, Romania, and Italy, just to name a few. This has provided me with such a unique work experience, and while the communication barrier can be tough at times, it is manageable and has made me a more adaptable and understanding person as a whole. Also interesting is the divide between British English and American English. While these differences are minor, they still pose a bit of a barrier in navigating everyday life.
It took me a bit of time to become comfortable at my internship site, but over five weeks in, I have finally become comfortable in the office and made friends with some of my coworkers. In the end, I concluded that I would get out of this internship what I put into it. Ever since I came to this conclusion, my days at work and the resulting lessons drawn from the experience have improved significantly.
I am currently taking two classes: Global Internship Workshop and Exploring the Global City. The internship workshop has aided me in articulating my internship experience for my resume, cover letter, and future interviews. Meanwhile, exploring the Global City is a course that meets twice a week. On Tuesdays we have a lecture on key course concepts, while on Thursday we complete a field study as a class. These weekly field studies explore unique areas of London that I likely would not have otherwise visited. This feature of the class has been one of my favorite parts of the abroad experience, as I am able to learn about the cultural landscape of London while also travelling the city.
While I had gone into this experience expecting to gain the most from my time outside of class and work, this has proven to be quite untrue. I have certainly learned a lot by exploring London on my own, however, my internship and coursework have taught me just as much about what it is like to live in this global city, if not more.
I have one more week here and I will surely make it count! Catch you later!