Maria Grosdidier - 2015 Program Participant

View of London from the top of St. Pauls Cathedral

View from the top of St.Paul's Cathedral

Why did you decide to intern abroad?

I really wanted to gain a global perspective of business and hands on experience through an internship. I knew that I couldn’t study abroad for a full semester but I still wanted the opportunity to learn about an international culture. When I heard about the two month program with an internship, I knew it was the perfect fit and something I would not regret doing.

Why did you choose IES Internships in London?

I chose to intern in London because London is a hub of international business. I knew that I could gain some critical thinking and business skills in a city like this. I also knew how much London had to offer. I wanted to pick somewhere where I knew that I would never get bored and run out of things to do.

What was your favorite part about London?

There is an endless amount to explore in London. Even after being there for two months, there was still so much more that I wanted to explore. In addition, I loved the amount of interaction and diversity that I got to experience day to day. Walking down the streets, I heard up to 10 different languages being spoken. At my work, I got to work on a team with someone from Romania, Israel, India, and Scotland.

I gained a true appreciation for how important teamwork is and for diversity. Being able to learn and gain insight from so many different perspectives has only enhanced my education and life.

A table set for tea in England

English Tea

What made your program unique?

Everyone who went on this program had a different experience. Some people worked for law firms, tech start ups, non- profits, financial institutions, design agencies, etc. Being able to hear about everyone’s take-aways and work life was an invaluable experience. Everyone’s summer experience was unique and everyone walked away gaining different skills and learning different areas of business.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

Everyone was very friendly and accommodated students for all different situations. We had orientation sessions where we got to learn the basics of London, such as taking the tube, being careful of pickpocketing, top 10 things to explore in the city, tips for travel to other countries, etc. These were all so helpful and I ended up using many of these techniques as a reference point for my first few weeks. Throughout the program the staff made themselves available if you needed them. Some people on my trip got homesick and the staff helped them get through it and gave them techniques on how to deal with issues.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish that I would’ve taken the time to travel more on the weekends. I didn’t realize how cheap it is to fly to other places close to Europe. When you are in the U.S., whenever you fly internationally it is quite expensive. I was amazed at how inexpensive it was to travel and I wish I had planned out a few more trips to other countries.

Describe a day in the life of your internship.

I worked for a marketing tech startup. Our office had bean bags and trampolines and the dress code was very casual. I loved how energetic and welcoming everyone was in my office. I worked on the sales team so some days I would go visit clients with my sales manager (this was my favorite part because I got to explore various parts of London and learn how people interact and do business with each other). Other days I would work on excel databases and make phone calls to clients. Every time someone in my office made a sale or closed a deal, they would ring a bell that we had in the middle of the office. When this happened, everyone stopped what he or she was doing and would get up and clap and cheer on the person that closed the deal. This was an incredible thing to see. I loved the positivity and encouragement that everyone in the office showed towards each other.

When I would get home from work, I would meet up with my floor mates for dinner and we would go explore London. We tested out a bunch of different restaurants and pubs and tried to go somewhere new everyday. We went to The Shard and The London Eye at night (I highly recommend this as the views were absolutely incredible). On the weekends, we would plan out our entire day and try to fit in as much as possible (planning is KEY to a successful day in London).

The London Eye, London, England

The London Eye

What is one of your most memorable moments from your time in London?

I was able to go to the queen’s birthday parade. I got to see the queen from 200 feet away and got to see the whole royal family on the balcony (including baby George and Charlotte). It was amazing to see the lack of protection surrounding the queen. She had no bodyguards or armor protection. She just smiled and waved at all the people as she rode through the parade.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it? 

I lived in a dorm in King’s Cross, which was the ideal location. The tube station was a five minute walk from our dorm and that station can literally take you anywhere. I also loved living with other students that were going through the program. My entire floor was full of students on my program and I became best friends with them. We would always go explore London together and meet up after work for dinner and drinks and discuss our days.

Now that you're home, how has interning abroad impacted your life?

I cannot express how much the internship meant to me. People are fascinated by the experience I was able to gain while abroad. As I go through job recruiting this semester, this has become a vital talking point in many of my interviews. As business is becoming more and more global, the recruiters love to hear about how I had the chance to gain international experience. In addition, I still keep in touch with many of my co-workers and supervisor. I use them as a resource and I also stay up to date on what the company is doing and has continued to do since I have left.