In anticipation of the applications for our new intern within the Edinburgh Study Centre, I wanted to follow up with all of the lovely ladies who have held my position before me! Jessica Trumble was our second intern in our London office (stay tuned on our blog to see our previous intern’s posts and check out our exchange project footage below)!
Let’s start with an introduction!
- I interned for the London Study Centre from August 2014-August 2015. I was part of the first class of UK study centre interns, and I actually didn’t study abroad in the UK at all! Between my second and third year at UCLA, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy with UCEAP.
What inspired you to apply for the internship position? Did it match your expectations once you began?
- When June 2014 rolled around, I realised I was totally unprepared for life after graduation. I was wasting time on Facebook and worrying about my future when I saw a friend posting from Turkey about their experience with UCEAP. I still didn’t know what I actually wanted to do with my life, but I wanted to go abroad again and that post inspired me to visit the UCEAP website and see if there was any chance they were hiring for any international positions. As luck would have it, the study centre internship had recently been listed and on a whim I applied. A week after I graduated, I was offered the job in London.
Nearly every second of my internship exceeded my expectations. When I moved to London, I fully expected to spend my tenure making copies and brewing tea. Instead, I was truly treated as part of the team, and given the opportunities to both pursue my interests in the field and take on increasing responsibilities throughout the year. I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed and appreciated the flexibility of this position, allowing me to get as much as possible out of the experience.
What was the most challenging aspect of the position? The most rewarding?
- The most rewarding part of the experience was being able to witness students blossom and grow throughout their time abroad. The most challenging was navigating my experience abroad while trying to help guide students through their own. Once I realized I didn’t have to be an expert and could just be honest about how I was figuring out life abroad – from sorting my accommodations to learning to like tea – I found this to be a more enriching and less stressful aspect of the internship.
What are the differences you experienced between studying abroad and working abroad?
- At least in my experience, studying and living abroad were completely different beasts. Of course, unlike most of the other interns, I hadn’t actually studied abroad in the UK before my internship. When I was studying abroad, I was most challenged by the task of speaking almost exclusively Italian in my daily life. While there wasn’t anywhere near that level of language barrier while I was working abroad – besides the spelling tripping me up a few times! – the biggest challenge was navigating a massive and unfamiliar city on my own. I didn’t have the built-in friends one makes in classrooms or on campus, so I definitely learned to expand my horizons and reach out in order to find a community. Now when I look back on my time in London, I am most proud of the relationships I built there.
What was the transition home like after your job here?
- Leaving London was definitely hard – after a year I finally felt like I had hit my stride both personally and professionally, and I wasn’t eager to leave the glorious British summer for an uncertain future back in California. But I just tried to focus on how lucky I was to have had an experience that was hard to leave. The good news is that once you’ve created a life for yourself abroad, building a new one in the States – much closer to many of your family and friends – is a piece of cake.
Not unlike my return to UCLA after studying abroad, one of the hardest things to remember is that everyone else has had an interesting year too. Try coming up with a handful of anecdotes that you feel are the best representation of your experience, and then realise that after they’ve heard a couple of stories, your friends and family will be ready to make new memories with you instead of just listening to you rehash those that don’t include them.
What are you doing now?
- I still work for UCEAP! After my tenure as a UK study centre intern ended, I was hired as the Scholarship & Alumni Engagement Coordinator for the UCEAP systemwide office in California. I help manage more than $1.5 million in annual study abroad scholarships and assist with the coordination of alumni events all around the world. The work I do now is only possible because of the experience I gained as a study centre intern.
Do you have any words of advice for future applicants?
- Go for it! I was hesitant to apply – I hadn’t studied abroad in the UK, and I had only done a summer abroad, not an entire year – but I’m passionate about cultural exchange and the trans-formative power of study abroad and that translated in my interview.
While my time in London was temporary, its impact on me was not. Know that working abroad is not for the faint of heart – but transitioning to life after college graduation is hard no matter where you are, so you might as well move across the world and live your dreams.