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Study & Internship Abroad Program in Paris - What to Expect

May 31, 2024
by Ella Madrak
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A street with bicycles parked on it

My Experience in the Study and Internship Abroad Program in Paris 

When I first heard about the opportunity to intern abroad, the option immediately captured my attention, especially seeing that the program was in Paris, one of my dream cities. Through studying at UMass Amherst and taking different courses in French, I knew that this was the perfect placement for me. Additionally, it was a goal of mine to have an internship during the spring semester and accomplishing that while studying abroad was a major bonus. If you’re thinking about applying for the CEA CAPA Study + Internship program in any city, I highly recommend it.  

A study abroad student standing in front of the Eiffel Tower on a sidewalk, smiling and looking at the camera

This photo was taken during one of our fashion class assignments to take pictures around the city. While working on the assignment, I grabbed a quick picture in front of the Eiffel Tower before work!  

Below, I compiled a list of some of my questions before coming into the spring semester, and hopefully this helps when considering studying (and interning) abroad!  

 

Answering Common Study and Internship Abroad Questions 

What are the hours like? Is it overwhelming?  

In the program I’m in, my placement requires 120 credit hours total, so that means interning 20 hours per week along with taking CEA CAPA’s Global Internship Course. For my placement, I interned at Birò France, a small electric vehicle company. Usually, in the office I worked on creating social media content for Birò (follow CEA CAPA’s socials), using Canva to create presentations and graphics, importing leads and contacts into HubSpot, and meeting with other members of the marketing team.  

Within the first month, I received a mock-up schedule, but with course changes and talking to my boss at Birò, we came up with a schedule that’d better accommodate their regular rhythm and schedule. For example, the office opens at 10 to 10:30 a.m. every day, so I came in around then, attended class, and went back to the CEA CAPA Study Center during the day. Since my placement was close to the Paris Study Center, it was easy to go from the office to class and vice versa. So, I didn’t feel very overwhelmed, and it was easy to communicate with different people in the office if I ran late or anything like that. Additionally, my in-person work ran between February 5 and April 5, giving me time to acclimate myself to the city and get into the swing of coursework.  

Although my placement was in person, it was still nice to create my own schedule, and I found it easy to travel and take weekend trips to neighboring cities and countries. Finally, in April, finals run around the last week of the program, making it nice to have some time to study and get in some last-minute sightseeing and travel before ending the semester!  

A group of people on a dock in front of several side-by-side buildings

This picture was taken during our brief visit to Honfleur! I really enjoyed getting to explore the city and grab a quick meal of moules-frites before returning to our excursion!  

A study abroad student standing on a bridge with a castle in the background

During our Normandy visit, we had the chance to visit the abbey on Mont-Sant-Michel and explore the medieval city, definitely worth a visit!  

Where was your placement, and what was that process like?  

Around December, I started the interview process, which was held virtually over Zoom with Sabrina, the CEA CAPA Paris Internship Coordinator, who I met with to discuss what I wanted to get out of the internship, explain my skillset and past experiences, and send over my résumé and other documents as well. When I first received a possible placement, I interviewed with a different company at first, but was then invited to interview with Birò France, which is where I spent the past semester. I remember waiting for my placement and being anxious, but everything worked out. Before coming to Paris, I knew that I’d be at Birò, so I had some time to familiarize myself with the company and communicate with Côme, my boss, just to introduce myself and get ready to start.

A street with bicycles parked on it

As the semester goes on, the weather has been getting nicer and nicer! I took this photo while exploring the city one weekend and have really enjoyed getting to see Paris in the spring.  

 

What is the Global Internship Course, and what have you learned? 

The Global Internship Course is like a professional development course where you’ll attend lectures throughout the semester that relate to your placement and will help you learn more about your host culture and how to communicate effectively with people from different cultures, especially in the workplace. In the class, we completed different activities about building relationships with your colleagues, discussing cultural differences, completing a mock interview, and revising résumés and cover letters.  

Overall, the course was insightful into working in a global setting, and I’ll use some of the things I’ve learned in the course when returning to the U.S. For example, one of my courses is about global competence and communication and we learned about high and low context cultures, especially as it relates to France and the U.S. This would relate to how in France the communication style is more implicit and relies on non-verbal cues, while in the U.S. communication is more outwardly expressed and verbalized. In this class, I learned more about France and the U.S. and the ways the two cultures differ, which is helpful when thinking about future workplace interactions and adapting to global communication.  

What is the language barrier like, and have you faced struggles?  

At my placement, the company has offices in France, Italy, and Brussels, so frequently people are speaking English, Italian, and French simultaneously. Although I enjoyed practicing my French in the office, it wasn’t challenging to communicate in English, and through being immersed in the language, I recognized my French improving, both through my French course and just listening to people talking throughout the day. I’d say sometimes there are cultural differences and it can be challenging to adapt to the French workplace style, but nothing was too difficult. For example, this is a positive difference, but in France mealtimes are longer and there’s a higher level of indulgence here so it’s typical to go out for a more leisurely lunch with the office, as opposed to the U.S. where mealtimes are more rushed.  

Overall, through my experience and hearing about other students in my program, it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a great chance to learn about another culture, build on your résumé, improve language skills (possibly), and gain hands-on experience in the workplace. Additionally, I feel like the internship only enhanced my time abroad, and I enjoyed having a chance to see what it’s like to intern at a real-life company, especially one in France. Not only does it build your connections abroad, but it’ll broaden your skillset and may allow you to learn what kind of job you want in the future.  


A pair of feet in shoes resting on a green chair in front of a garden and lawn

With coursework and interning, it’s important to take some time off! Here I’m enjoying sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens between classes; I highly recommend visiting, definitely a popular spot for tourists and locals alike! 

I also highly recommend participating in the CEA CAPA Content Creator Program! While studying or interning abroad, you’ll experience so many things and see so many different places, so writing about it and taking photos is very easy. I’ve really enjoyed getting to practice writing in a semi-informal setting, and it’s been fun to choose blog topics and share some of my photos from my travels. Overall, through taking courses, participating in an internship, and writing for the CEA CAPA blog, I can truly say that I learned and grown a lot since being abroad, and I highly encourage anyone to study with CEA CAPA, especially in Paris!  

À tout et merci de lire mes articles!  

-Ella       


Ella Madrak is the Content Creator - Blogger in Paris, France, and is currently studying at University of Massachusetts.
 
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