Reflecting on My Summer in Ireland

When I first applied for the International Internship Program in Dublin, I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on me, both personally and professionally. I chose this program for many personal reasons: to see the country my ancestors were from, to live independently, to explore new cultures, and to learn more about who I am and who I want to be. In an academic and professional sense, I chose this program because it fulfilled the foreign culture requirement needed for my degree in the College of Business Administration, I wanted to gain internship experience in the marketing field, and I wanted to understand what it would be like to live and work abroad—something I’ve been thinking more and more about doing.  

One of the biggest things I’ve realized about myself after completing the program, is probably obvious to most people but it’s how important my mindset is to how I feel overall. Before leaving for Dublin my mindset was the same as it always is when I’m starting something new or stepping outside my comfort zone: keep your expectations extremely low so when the bad stuff happens, it doesn’t have as big of an effect on you. Reflecting on this now after spending eight weeks living and working in a foreign country and knowing no one going into it, I realized I have used it to protect myself. Although in the past it has felt absolutely necessary, I can see now that it’s also held me back from truly experiencing everything life has to offer—the good and the bad. This experience exceeded my low expectations astronomically. I made lifelong friends with complete strangers, I traveled and lived independently, and I stepped outside of my comfort zone whenever I had the chance. Going forward I want to be more mindful of the way I frame experiences before even giving them a chance.  

Not only was it my first time actually using my passport, but it was also my first internship! Interning with the Restaurant Association of Ireland was an interesting experience and while the work itself was somewhat disappointing, I still made great connections and learned a lot. I had hoped to have an internship within the realm of marketing or advertising or public relations but instead I ended up doing mostly administrative tasks. I spent the majority of my time looking at the same Excel spreadsheets and Salesforce, going back and forth copying and pasting the data in them. Luckily, I did have a very kind and helpful supervisor, Dana, who made me feel so welcomed and appreciated! By the end of my internship, I also became fairly close with two of the other interns who were actually from Ireland. Hanging out with them, learning about their lives and seeing how similar we are, was one of the biggest highlights of my trip. We exchanged stories from our pasts and made plans for the future and I can’t wait for our paths to cross again! Although I wish I was given more exposure to the marketing aspect of the organization I’m proud of myself for continuing to show up to the office with an open mind and a smile on my face each day. Here are a few things I learned that I’ll take back to my classes at Pitt and to all of my future jobs:  

1. Asking questions doesn’t show weakness, it shows that you care about the quality of the work you’re producing 

2. Your work environment can be just as important as the work you’re doing 

3. Wake up earlier than you think you should (you never know when the 39A’s not going to show up on time) 

4. Build and nurture relationships with your coworkers/peers, you can learn so much from them 

5. Do your homework and be prepared each day, it will take so much of the weight off your shoulders 

I’ll never forget the eight weeks I spent in Ireland and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience a taste of what it’s like to live and work abroad. I’m excited to return to Pitt in a few weeks and reunite with the friends I made in Dublin. It’s felt weird not seeing each other every day! I’m also excited to start my junior year and a new chapter of my life. I hope to use what I’ve learned about myself during my time in Dublin to continue to grow personally, academically and professionally.