Making the Most of Your Internship Abroad
I completed my study abroad program in London while also completing an internship at the same time and here I’ll outline my experiences interning in a new country and share the value of completing an internship abroad. There are endless reasons why students decide to study abroad, including traveling, experiencing new cultures, historical impacts, you name it. When discussing study abroad with prospective students, these are the frequent responses of why they want to do it. I propose completing an internship, in addition to all the other reasons why you should study abroad. I feel extra qualified for this, as I was the person who also wanted to hit as many countries as possible (I think my final count was 13!) while still seeing what London had to offer and getting the most out of my internship! So, while many of the common reasons help you develop socially and culturally, completing an internship also allows for professional development.
The view right off of the tube to get to the Royal Free Hospital
The Ideology of Interning
As a psychology student, there are many career paths after getting a degree. I think the statement is relevant to whatever degree you’re pursuing. As a young person with many ideas of what to do in the future, you must narrow down your prospects when getting your degree. The Career and Internship Team at CEA CAPA does a phenomenal job placing you in a relevant internship through forms and interviews to ensure you are spending your time at a place where you can grow and help an organization. I was placed at the Royal Free Hospital Children’s School (RFHCS), a special educational school working with students living with a range of social and educational needs, and within one of London’s biggest hospitals. My experience was amazing, so I encourage you all to work in a new place.
Ward 6 West B – the location of the classroom and RFHCS school office
Within the hospital, I had the opportunity to work within three disciplines relating to the school.
First, pastoral services, teaching, and educating the students at the school. I learned techniques for educating students, sustaining the attention of students, and creating meaningful relationships with them.
Classroom in the main hospital, for children on the ward
Second, I worked logistically with the Eating Disorders Team to develop individual educational plans for students living with severe eating disorders and plan the Royal Free Hospital’s annual Eating Disorders conference.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, was developing a research study measuring the cost-effectiveness of the RFHCS with my supervisor and fellow intern from Singapore (pretty cool!). You never know what you’ll develop an interest in and conducting that research has allowed me to narrow down what I want to do for my future career.
You don’t only intern to help a company, you do it to help yourself develop in the adult world. Experiences help shape us into the person we will become, which is one unique way to get a new point of view and a whole new set of work-related experiences. Of course, like any job or internship, you can apply what you have learned in the real world while expanding on transferable skills. Adding an international internship to your résumé is fascinating and will make you stand out as a candidate. Before I even completed my internship in London, I needed to look for a summer internship back home. My interviewer, who became my supervisor and colleague, was very curious about my experience in London because he had spent a decade in London after studying abroad there. Another prime example is when I recently interviewed for a research position at my university, it was one of the first things my interviewer and I connected with since he grew up in Germany. Now, he is my mentor and thesis advisor and will be a lifelong connection. Despite grades being essential to college, I believe it is more about your experiences and how you learn and adapt to them. Development is a critical aspect of your college years, forming the foundation of what you want to believe and become in the world. Becoming more familiar with it through lived experiences benefits your personal growth.
The Royal Free Hospital
Everybody wants to have some flexibility with their schedule while abroad, especially for traveling and seeing what your city and country offer. While interning 20 hours a week and taking 12 credits a week makes for a busy 4-day schedule, I promise there is time for everything. I checked off many of the countries and sites on my bucket list and much more. CEA CAPA was also impressive with providing excursions during the weeknights to see more of London and the UK, while I spent the weekend traveling around on a budget. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, including studying and interning in a new country, experiencing a new culture, traveling, and everything that comes with studying abroad. Interning is a great way to supplement some free time while gaining another perspective and experience through professional development.
Hampstead Heath, a 2-minute walk from the hospital. It is also one of London’s largest green spaces and provides arguably the best view of the city’s skyline!
Jackson Schwartz is the Spring 2023 Alumni Ambassador in London, England, and is currently studying at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.