Letter from an Alumn to Parents

[Dear Concerned Parent:]

I'm so, so happy you're reaching out and asking these questions. Trust me, my mom was, of course, a little nervous when I threw out the idea that I wanted to work at an internship in Dublin for the summer so I completely understand all of your questions / concerns.

First, let me just say, I truly had an experience of a lifetime this summer. It sounds cliche, but with the way life works, it's never easy to get this type of traveling experience while being able to gain experience working at the same time.

If I didn't take this opportunity, I honestly don't know when I'd ever get to travel and really surround myself in a new culture, especially at this exciting time in my life -- being young, ready to soak in everything, learn and just have a fun time.

The "Real World" your daughter is going to be jumping into in a few years is, as I'm sure your aware, competitive and difficult. I always knew I needed internships to give me that edge when I go for interviews but this experience tops the charts. Some students can say they've gained experience in internships. Other students can say they've studied abroad.

But rarely can a student say to a possible future employer that they were lucky enough to do BOTH and have a lot to show for it. I've grown so much in this summer and I feel so much more ready to face the so-called "Real World," and I'm not scared because this experience has shown me that I am ready.

So, now for the big questions you need answers for:

1. My internship was far more than I could have ever imagined. I promise you I am not exaggerating any of this. The two men I worked for were so welcoming, caring, and very intelligent individuals. They were businessmen and worked hard but never overlooked an opportunity where I could learn from their daily working lives.

I worked for a video production company and helped by mostly editing footage they gave me. And it was so fun for me because they gave me very few guidelines, allowing me to be creative and show them what I could do. They were impressed by my work and put some of my promotional videos on the internet. Leaving the internship, I have a DVD, or video reel, to show future employers my work. It was very important to me that I came out of this whole experience with something to show for it and, luckily, I got that and MORE.

They made sure I was getting the most of my time in Dublin, always suggesting places to go, things to see- they were awesome to work for and I built a great professional relationship and friendship with them that is going to be beneficial to me for years to come.

2. Before this summer I never traveled alone or ever even traveled out of the country. Talk about being nervous. I cried at the airport when my family dropped me off because I was so scared. But the second I arrived in Dublin, I could barely remember why I even teared up. Everything fell into place and the transition was easy.

I came there as a VERY inexperienced traveler, and now I'm back home and can say I've been to Ireland, Scotland, England and the Canary Islands (we took AMAZING weekend trips to close countries). My family was shocked when they heard how much traveling I did in just a short two months. I have a new love for traveling and I am dying for my next big trip.

My nationality is American, I only speak English and so that was another relief that I went to Ireland instead of a Spanish speaking country or something.

3. I heard about Global Experiences by e-mails sent out through my college Penn State's internship opportunity emailing list. I read the e-mail, thought, "Hmm, this could be interesting," responded saying I wanted to learn more and I was immediately in touch with a person to answer all of my questions and give me all of the information I wanted before I even knew if I wanted to apply.

4. Before we headed off to Ireland, there were webinars where Global Experience helped give any more information they could -- there was so much they provided us with so I felt comfortable going. One big thing they emphasized was to not go into this with any expectations because some people go in thinking one way and when they arrive and it's completely different, they get disappointed and can't transition as well.

So, I'll be honest, though I had very few expectations, I did have an idea of my living accommodations before I got there and, yes, at first the apartment disappointed me. But ONLY because our specific apartment had less features than the other apartments everyone else lived in when we compared. Overall, it was a nice apartment though. For example, we had twin beds, others had full. We had old carpets, everyone else had wood floors.

These differences were basically simple aesthetic features that we lacked but of course, we weren't going to get bent out of shape from them. ALSO, just to give you a better idea, GE gets its students in the best accommodations for the city they're in. I know this because we actually went to London for a weekend and stayed with another fellow GE intern and they're housing was unbelievable! It was so nice, comfortable, modern, etc. 

But the best part about our apartment building was that it was in a safe location of Dublin and very close to almost everyone's internship. Even my bosses were impressed with the location and said that it's a nice, safe walk for me to come to work. And it was. As for its convenience to food stores, shopping, restaurants, night life, bus routes -- EVERYTHING was a 5-20 minute walk. Food stores and bus routes, especially, were right down the road. It was perfect; I have a bad sense of direction and I managed to only get a little lost the first week.

5. Now for the cost-- Money is never easy to come by and I come from a lifestyle where it's extra hard. So, my mom was not too thrilled with what it cost but to answer this question you really have to put you're own financial situation into perspective. My outlook (that people may disagree with) is this: I do not let money stop me from doing what I want to do when it comes to advancing my future.

For example, I applied to Penn State (my dream school) and, once accepted, dealt with how I would pay for it all. Granted, I had to apply to hundreds of scholarships and luckily ended up with a full ride but it wasn't easy. So, I put this experience into perspective -- rarely do any decent communications internships pay. Traveling is never cheap. I really want an internship in NYC so living there could easily end up being about $3,000 more or less and this is an opportunity to live in a different country.

I will admit living there ended up costing a lot more than I anticipated but I have this mentality that a few couple hundred dollars may seem like a HUGE amount right now but when I'm 30 and looking back on my young life, a few extra hundred bucks was totally worth the memories I made. When you look at the cost of this experience, plan to spend more, especially if your daughter is interested in traveling to other places but if you think that you could handle the cost now, I promise it will pay off in her future.

I already have other internship opportunities that are within reach after this internship that I wouldn't have had a chance getting otherwise. You form relationships with people who have many connections and everyone at Global Experiences wants us to succeed. So, yes it may seem pricey in the beginning but no amount can be put on what you get out of it all.

6. Would I do it again? No. Why? I went into this knowing it was going to be a once in a lifetime summer. And it was. Will I travel again -- absolutely. But because I've learned so much about what I could see myself doing in my near future I am now looking for internships in cities like NYC because I may want to live there after college.

It was amazing living in Dublin and I'm sure it'd be amazing to live in any other country but now I need to focus on figuring out what else I want out of a possible career and I don't think staying in Dublin again could help me find those answers. But would I change anything? Yes. I wish I went into this knowing it was going to cost a lot of money because it was hard being over there and constantly needing to have my mom help me out with money.

It took me about two weeks before I realized how quickly money can disappear when your having a good time out in a fun city like Dublin.

7. Believe it or not I actually did come home and recommend Global Experiences to all my closest friends and even my cousin. They are thinking about studying abroad but they know they can't waste a summer traveling when the know they need to use that summer to gain valuable job experience so after they realized how much my summer in Dublin provided me with both, their doubts are gone.

8. Advice: Don't be scared to travel. Don't be nervous to hop off a plane in a new, unknown country and become a local. Make friends with the locals. Be a tourist for a week or two and then walk around like you've been there for years. It was so exciting after a few weeks because I genuinely felt like I lived there. And I loved it.

No more walking around with a big book bag and a map. I was a pro. Get to know your employers. They're there to help you learn and grow. Get out of Dublin and travel around Ireland. Get a feel for the countryside. TRAVEL AROUND EUROPE. Best decision my roommates and I made was to take a long weekend and go to Scotland and London. Have fun and soak in every moment and don't sweat the small stuff because two months fly by!

9. My mom had a lot of questions in the beginning but she knew this was ultimately my decision. It is, after all, my future, and she trusts me. So, any questions she had she ran them by me and it was up to me to get all of the answers. When she knew I had my heart set she was on board and together we worked out any last kinks or questions she had or was concerned about. It was all pretty simple for us.

Hope this all helps. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to ask. Tell your daughter she won't regret this! :)

Sincerely,
Leslie

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