In conclusion…

Thank you. Thank you to everyone that made this experience for me possible. Thank you to the team at Pitt, who accepted me into this program and gave me the tools to make this experience as amazing as it was. Thank you to the EUSA team for finding me – an engineer – an internship in an Art Gallery in Paris. Thank you to my host mom for welcoming me into your home, and for feeding me chocolate ice cream everyday. Thank you for my parents for funding this experience for me, and for always supporting my dreams. And finally thank you to the staff at SLOW Galerie in Paris for giving me the best experience I could have asked for.

My international experience was incredible. I have so many memories that I will look back on fondly. I remember on Day 2 tearing up in front of the grocery store because of how overwhelmingly scary it all was. I also remember a week later meeting someone I thought went to my school in that same grocery store (spoiler he didn’t), and making a new friend. I will remember running to the Eiffel tower every day and coming home to fresh bread. I will remember the clubs and the nights out, and sitting with my friends by the Seine until 5 am. I will remember the Pride Parade, and the Life on Mars exposition at my gallery. But mostly I will remember my growth from Day 1 to Week 8.

Personally, I have become more confident in myself. Confidence is a long road. I am currently sitting in London about to embark on another incredible journey, and I feel myself lacking confidence. The journey to complete confidence is a long one, but I can confidently say, that my time spent in Paris has contributed greatly to my current confidence level. I experienced and had to navigate situations that were definitely difficult, and the fact that I was able to navigate them with grace, shows me what I am capable of. Another way I have grown personally, is my ability to handle stress. While in Paris, I lost someone in my family. That, coupled with the french’s approach to life, made me decide to swear off stress entirely. Now, I know that is not realistic, especially for me – Miss. Type A; however, I have definitely been making more of a deliberate effort to laugh at myself, to take life less seriously, and to live with intention and stress free.

Academically, I have grown in that I can officially get my french minor! This program counts towards my french minor, and without it, I would not have had space in my schedule. I am also certain that after about 6-12 more months in France, I will be able to speak the language fluently. I am so thankful that this experienced improved my french level the way it did. Although my major is in engineering, my true love is France and the french language. I think that going through this program showed that I can work at the intersection of my passions in a professional setting. I worked in France, in an art gallery, where I implemented industrial engineering principles to improve the efficiency of the gallery. If that isn’t my dream, I don’t know what is.

Professionally, I have grown in that I now know that I am capable of working in an international setting. I remember before this program noting that “working internationally in theory is likely not what working internationally is in reality”. And now, after having the opportunity to work internationally for 2 months, I have a better idea of what it entails, and I am confident that it is something that I can and will pursue in my career.

In summary, my takeaways from this program include…

  1. Improved French Communication Skills
  2. Improved Stress Management
  3. A love for Paris
  4. The knowledge that I can apply engineering principled in atypical ways
  5. An international Network

I ultimately got way more out of the program that I could have ever dreamed. I think the main takeaway that I can bring back to Pitt and Pitt Swanson School of Engineering is this notion that I can create the career I want. As an Industrial Engineer, many people expect me to fill the shoes of a specific role. And while I did try the traditional industrial engineering route, I ultimately decided that it was not for me, and made the risky decision to pursue my dreams. Now, months later, I can confidently say that with my industrial engineering degree, I am in no way confined to consultancy or manufacturing. I can work in…say…an art gallery in Paris.