Emily in Paris (But Not Really): What It's Really Like to Intern in Paris

No shade to the hit Netflix romantic comedy series but let’s be real, your internship experience in Paris will not be á la Emily in Paris. To put it simply, the average Parisian employer does not have the streaming giant’s production budget to turn a look for the aesthetic (Lily Collins’ character, Emily, really can pull off a bold print) or orchestrate the perfect accidentally-on-purpose meet-cute. Sure, your internship experience probably won’t be exactly like a highly produced rom-com series but that doesn’t mean that you can’t gain valuable experience interning abroad in Paris!  

France’s capital city is known for its iconic fashion, art, and culture. Paris offers internship opportunities that live up to its reputation while providing an authentic experience in a French work environment. Popular fields include travel and tourism, digital marketing, communications, business operations and logistics, and fashion business and marketing, among others. 

Learn what it is truly like to work professionally in Paris. Perhaps contrary to certain stereotypes, French work culture values dedicated, high-quality contributions from its employees. Balance outside of the office is values as well. It is common to take a mid-morning coffee or tea break with co-workers and an extended (by U.S. standards) lunch period away from your desk to enjoy a full meal before returning to the office. At the same time, working later than the typical 9 to 5 can also be standard to account for the longer lunch break. Of course, it’s a good idea to confirm with your host employer what your daily or weekly schedule may look like.  Terrace Lunch


You do not need to be fluent in French in order to intern in Paris, but it is a bonus if you have proficiency in the language! Even if you are still a French language learner, interning in Paris can help you improve your fluency in your day-to-day life navigating the city, commuting to and from your internship site, and socializing with your friends and co-workers. A common misconception of Parisians is that they can be cold, if not downright hostile, towards visitors who do not speak French, but this is simply not true! Paris is diverse global city where even if you do not speak a word of French, making a minimal attempt to learn and practice the language will go miles with native Parisians. It’s the effort that counts more than perfect grammar and pronunciation.  

In immersing yourself in French culture, it’s important to note the city’s efforts to go green! Taking public transit such as the métro, bus, or tram to commute to and from the office is common. You may also find plastic grocery bags harder to come by, or if available, at an additional cost. Be sure to have a tote bag or other reusable bag when shopping just in case! When you aren’t working at your internship, enjoy a picnic at one of the many parks and greenspaces around the city. 

 Champ de Mars Picnic


Circling back to work-life balance, make the most of your free time during your internship program by exploring the city! There is so much to do in Paris. Even for seasoned travelers who have visited the city before, there is always something new to do, see, or eat while in Paris. Hit up the major sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Arc de Triomphe. Find the hidden gems in Paris’s café culture, more intimate local museums, and the many shops and boutiques. Arc de Triomphe-1


The most important thing to consider when interning in Paris is to keep an open mind and truly challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone whether it is in the project work for your internship, the language, culture, cuisine, etc. which can be easier said than done. Given its reputation as the city of light and love, it can be easy to romanticize what it will be like to live and work in Paris. Adjusting to your internship program may take more than a series of comedic mishaps and creative solutions seen in Emily in Paris, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own main character moment that you can highlight on your resume! 

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