For many people around the world, Paris is an iconic city of romance, passion, elegance, and beauty.
Our interns arrive with bright eyes and big dreams, and Natalie C., a student at the University of Michigan, was no exception:
“For me, it’s always been Paris. As a little girl, I was twirling around in my ballet classes and reciting French phrases to my dance teacher. Growing up, I had Eiffel Tower posters up all over my room. In high school, I fell in love with the French language and my class trip to Quebec firmly cemented a dream to see Paris for myself.”
Her dream came true this past summer when she landed an internship in event management in Paris, France!
Deciding to intern abroad
Everyone has their own unique reasons for interning abroad, whether it be for personal growth, a childhood dream, a resume builder, or simply to have an adventure! But Natalie was also encouraged by her sister and family:
“My sister did an internship in Dublin last year, and my family was able to visit her and travel around Europe in August. Having that brief experience made the transition a bit easier for me.”
Still a little bit hesitant, Natalie made sure to do some research before traveling to Paris. Despite visiting the city, she wanted to have a better idea of what to expect!
“When I was considering Global Experiences, watching the Paris Snapchat takeover from last year (and reaching out to the intern on Instagram afterward) really helped me make my decision.”
“...researching the signs of culture shock and the finer points of living in Paris before I left was really helpful too! Giving myself down time even when I wanted to run around Paris the first few days was essential too.”
Planning a career in event management
The goal of every internship is to prepare the intern for a future career in their desired field. Having international experience enhances professional portfolios, and introduces new challenges and exciting opportunities. Natalie had the thrill of working for a young startup called Spark the Change, which “organizes business conferences where speakers discuss the future of work.”
Working in a startup allowed Natalie to try a variety of different tasks, including “creating a budget for a work retreat, drafting newsletters, contacting local businesses about partnerships, and attending meetings with future speakers and sponsors.”
Work cultural differences
International workplaces usually provide the unique opportunity to observe and interact with different work cultures from around the world. While Natalie was surprised at the differences between her and her fellow American interns, she also reflected on the work cultural differences between the U.S. and France:
“Working in a startup that has a lot of flexibility helped me realize how structured things are in the U.S. People in France are a lot more comfortable offering criticism and honest feedback, which is refreshing; it really highlights how often people sugar-coat their comments in American workplaces.”
Our French coworkers are much friendlier than I expected, and I really like the informal and collaborative atmosphere of our office.”
Office flexibility isn’t the only thing that Natalie realized she enjoys:
“By nature of the French workplace, I’ve become much more comfortable working without a structured to-do list, and composing my own plan for getting things done.”
“My favorite task so far has been composing newsletters, because the content I create gets sent to over 3,000 people who are interested in what we do!”
Watch a day in the life of intern Natalie
In her Snapchat takeover, Natalie shows us what it’s like waking up in the La Défense neighborhood of Paris, taking the Metro to work and stopping at a boulangerie for breakfast! After work, she takes us downtown for a goodbye party hosted by Global Experiences.
Life in the City of Lights
Life in Paris is full of adventure and exploration. The city’s numerous arrondissements each have their own unique personality and style. Visitors can often get lost exploring the winding streets and diverse neighborhoods.
Luckily for Natalie, Paris is also centrally located in Western Europe with easy access to other cities and countries via plane, train, and automobile:
“I’ve spent my weekends in Barcelona, Rome, Marseilles, and Normandie (as well as in Paris); and I’ve loved every second! I’ve been spending as much free time after work exploring the cultural attractions in this city, because you really never run out of things to do here.”
In addition to fulfilling her childhood dream, Natalie has gained some invaluable experience from her internship with Spark the Change. She has a better understanding of what she wants in her future career and her future life!
“Now that I know I can survive on my own professionally and personally in a foreign country, I feel much more confident pursuing my interests moving forward. I’ve been able to dip into the various aspects of event planning, and it’s helped me narrow down what I like and what I don’t. For example, writing blogs and analyzing data are interesting to me, but advertising and marketing tend to stress me out.”
Advice for future interns
If you’re still uncertain about doing an internship abroad of your own, then Natalie has a piece of advice for you:
“If you are able to, GO! Having a long-term international experience as a young adult will be incredibly valuable! Reach out to someone you know who’s gone abroad and ask them what they wish they knew before going. Do your research, save your money, utilize your resources, and pack your bags!”
It’s your turn!
“If I can be the person that helps someone else decide they want to intern abroad, that would be an awesome way to pay things forward.”
Hopefully, Natalie has inspired you to go on an adventure of your own! Working and living in another culture is a unique, fun, and exciting way to spend your summer or semester.
If you think you'd like to intern in Paris, or one of our many other locations around the world, apply now! One of our Admissions Counselors will reach out to you and help you take the next steps in finding an international internship that's right for you.