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My 2007 AIFS Internship Experience Part II | London Study Abroad

Welcome Back!  

Thanks so much for all the emails, retweets, and shares for Part I of this review. I am excited to see that many of you had already heard of this fantastic internship program (and that a few of you even felt encouraged to apply for future intakes! – Good Luck!). 

Also, an extra special thanks to AIFS for taking notice and featuring it on their blog last week. I am grateful and humbled. 

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 

 
As promised, this time, I’ll be completing my review by discussing my actual London internship program in more detail as well as offering feedback on certain elements which I believe could be/can be improved about the program overall.
Please note: My review is written from my specific experience with the AIFS program in 2007. Certain elements or standard practices may have changed since this time.

 

Orientation & Introduction Into British Culture

As part of the internship program, before we even thought about actually working, we were required to complete an intensive three-week British Immersion and Culture studies course at the Richmond campus in Kensington.

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 

Despite popular belief from outsiders who have never been, the UK is NOT ‘just like America’ (Sorry Anglophiles, but you know I’m right!). There is an entire separate belief system about daily life, different culture cues, slang, ideals, you name it, it differs.
I found this introduction (taught by a British professor, who had experience living in America nonetheless) was a nice way to start our journey. It just offered such a rich perspective on both small and larger concepts to be aware of once we started working in our roles.

 

I’m proud to say this course was useful to me during my internship and I also learned some things which I applied a few years later when I returned to London for graduate studies.

Overall Rating: 10/10

 

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection.

The Internship Selection Process

The orientation process intertwined with the internship selection. During our initial application and admissions, we were given the chance to select ‘general’ industries that we were interested in working in. As the time grew closer to our arrival in London, we were sent a list of potential hiring partners in our ‘Top 2’ industries with plans to have interviews once we arrived in the city.
As I was majoring in Broadcasting and Journalism, I was interested in both Media and Public Relations placements. 

 

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. (believe it or not, this photo was by an accident, I was stretching and pulling my headphones out of my tangled web with my camera and VIOLA! oops! lol

For each industry, AIFS offered a wide range of partner organizations from large multinational companies to small nonprofits so, in a way, it was definitely up to each individual intern to decide which opportunities would work best based on our future goals and what we might be interested in gaining out of the overall experience.

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 

I completed one in-person interview and received my offer within a span of five days. For the most part, this was fairly common with the exception of a few students who had already secured internships prior to arriving or those who had interviewed as soon as we arrived in August. During my program, all interns were placed in time to ‘officially start’.

 

Our internships started in the third week of September 2007.

Overall Rating: 10/10

 

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection

Getting the Job Done 

I landed an internship at CNBC Europe, working as a General Newsroom & Production Intern (which basically means you help with EVERYTHING on a bespoke basis!). As I have a strong distaste for ‘entertainment/fluffy ‘news’, CNBC was definitely my first choice as I loved the fact that the topics covered on the network were much more hard-hitting.
My main assignments were on the shows Worldwide Exchange and Power Lunch Europe  – a 5:30 AM start every day but I gladly traded my sleep for the opportunities it afforded me. I was working for free yes, but the pay off would come later, no doubt.

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 

I LOVED my time at CNBC Europe. For starters, the commute was excellent – 45 minutes door to door both ways, which is not bad during morning and evening rush hours in Central London, particularly on the Central Line itself.
As you would assume, it was located in the Financial District, just steps away from St. Paul’s Cathedral and close to many of the main attractions ( I spent so many daily lunch breaks sightseeing away!)
I found the work challenging and valuable for my future (although I have since transitioned into Marketing and Advertising) and I learned so much about my work style and what I liked and did not like about being an intern. I also gained immense insight into what it was like to work in a foreign office environment –  another foreshadowing experience for me.

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 

Overall, I enjoyed my internship because I chose an organization and avenue which was perfect for me. I would recommend any prospective student to consider the same. It’s better to think about how the opportunity will benefit you in the future instead of just chasing after an internship with a company because of the ‘name’. There were a few colleagues on my course who did this and later went on to regret the decision as time went on.
Do your researchevaluate compatibility, and if necessary take a chance of something outside of your comfort zone.

Overall Rating: 10/10 

 

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 

Work Can Be Its Own Reward

Excursions are a key selling point for AIFS and their study abroad programs. No matter which program you choose, traditional or internship, you’ll be fortunate enough to get the chance to travel with the group as part of the price of your program.
This was an added bonus for us, interns since traveling became trickier on an independent basis because most of us only had Saturday and half of Sundays due to our intense work hours.
There were a few fellow interns who managed to do quick tours of neighboring Germany and parts of Benelux but admittedly did not have enough time or space in between to ‘enjoy it’ like the traditional students who had more flexible weekends.

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 

Our cornerstone excursion was a weekend trip (Friday – Sunday) trip to Paris. I’m come clean and say I was quite underwhelmed overall.
Of course, this had nothing do with AIFS itself who did a great job organizing our travel back and forth to Paris, coordinating and organizing several itineraries for us and paying for us to get into The Louve and Eiffel Tower, along with a guided coach tour.
I think it was much more based on the fact that I had heard SO much hype over the years about Paris, so my expectations were set higher than reality….hey, it happens.

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 

In terms of physical beauty, I did find Paris to be particularly stunning at night.
As a bonus, after several weeks in Britain, I was pleased to see people driving on the CORRECT side of the road again, even if just for a few days.

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection.

Word to the wise:  If you take nothing else away from this blog, please do remember this – When visiting Paris (or any EU city, really) where you’ll be walking A LOT and packing in as many sights as possible, WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES.
Because of the rain and winter chill, my adorable knitted UGGs seemed like such a good idea to strut around in…WRONG. I could barely walk for days after returning to London. #FeetwereDEADwithinhours

 

Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 
I realize that wearing sneakers outside of the gym is “trashy” in Europe and automatically shows your ‘Americanism’ but ignore the critics and save yourself some pain later! If you’re afraid of getting the side-eye for breaking out the ‘trainers’, make sure you bring along some solidly comfortable and supportive flats at least. 
Overall Rating: 7/10

 

There’s Always Room For Improvement 

Although I would rate my overall experience with AIFS a 10/10, there are still a few things I would recommend for improvement:
Length of Internship Selection Period– As I stated, everyone in my program was lucky to secure an internship. However, I think it would have been useful to have initial contact with hiring managers prior to arriving in London. Of course, this was before Skype, so perhaps now this option is more viable.
Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection
Professional Development Opportunities – I would have been interested in having a greater emphasis on professional development throughout the span of my program, with a strong liaison between my workplace and AIFS/Richmond. I would recommend a final end of term project that combines lessons learned from both.
Post-Program Communication Channels – This is something I have noticed AIFS is quite effective in relation to recent ‘graduates’ of their programs. However, I would be interested in having a more robust outreach for Alumni from further back so that we can stay in touch. A ‘Where Are They Now’ newsletter for every class’s 10th year anniversary? Just a thought……
Photo Credit: Kimber’s Collection. 
As prefaced in Part I, the decision to complete this program set in motion a domino effect of decisions that would define the next decade of my life. If you are considering taking the leap into a new experience, have faith, and JUMP!

 

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*All photos are my property and owned by Anchor Me Abroad LLC. Please do not reuse or redistribute without permission.  These photos are not covered by Creative Commons and are not for sale **All opinions are strictly my own and were not formed or published due to compensation, bribery, or influence by any of the companies or organizations mentioned in this post. 

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