In anticipation of our incoming applications for the Edinburgh Study Centre Internship we’re catching up with all of our previous interns to see how they felt about their time in London and Edinburgh. Check out this brilliant follow up with our previous Edinburgh Intern Shannon Ho!
Let’s start with an introduction!
- Hello! My name is Shannon and my internship with the UCEAP Edinburgh Study Centre was through the 2016 calendar year. I studied abroad in Glasgow during Spring 2014, so it was a real dream to be able to come back and work in this country I love so much.
What inspired you to apply for the internship position? Did it match your expectations once you began?
- This is a fun fact: I actually had applied for this position around mid-2015, and wasn’t initially selected. When I saw the posting again near the end of 2015, I bit the bullet and applied again, and was successful. My deep love for Scotland and desire to return for longer were what prompted me to apply both times, and I’m so happy I took another leap of faith the second time around. The internship beyond exceeded my expectations; I couldn’t have asked for a better work environment and a better set of colleagues. Each day in the office was a joy and a laugh, and I got to do and learn so much. I consider myself the luckiest girl in the world having done this internship with the Edinburgh Study Centre.
What was the most challenging aspect of the position? The most rewarding?
- Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the position for me was outside the realm of the workplace; it was hard for me to find my bearings in terms of social life. I had some friends in Glasgow, but I knew no one in Edinburgh. As supportive and wonderful as the ESC staff were, it was pretty lonely for me outside of the office when I first arrived in Edinburgh. I am naturally pretty outgoing, but I really had to push myself the extra mile to be able to find a good group of people. I used friend-finding apps, went to meet-ups, joined a local church, and did basically everything I possibly could to meet new people. Thankfully, the warm nature of Scotland made it easy to connect with others, and I was able to make friends for life.
- The most rewarding part of this position was really being able to fall deeper in love with Scotland through my daily life, and being able to convert that love and passion right into my work. Not to get all New Age-y, but even the most mundane tasks in Edinburgh were something to be cherished because I was doing them in the place I love most in the world. Waiting in line at Lidl, flagging a cab in the rain, making tea for my colleagues the way they like it (Fraser is the only one who takes it with sugar!), and watching “Love Island” with my flatmate are all things I think back on fondly even today. If any of my love and enthusiasm for Scotland rubbed off on any of our students, I’ll have considered myself successful at this position.
What are the differences you experienced between studying abroad and working abroad?
- More and more I realise that studying abroad is a completely unique experience that cannot be replicated. When you study abroad, you’re with a large group of your peers who are your age, going through the same chapter in life. There’s a lot of things you learn in a very specific environment that’s a bit of a bubble; for a semester or a year you’re free to live out your life a little bolder than you usually would and there’s a lot of self-discovery. Working abroad doesn’t quite have that same care-free feel, as you’ve got quite structured responsibilities and a far more structured schedule. If you didn’t want to go to class one day or put off doing an essay until the night before it was due, you could get by. It’s not so much the same as work, where deadlines are strict and tasks need to be completed without much leeway. That being said, it was lovely to feel a bit more “grown-up” as a working adult in Scotland; I had the absolute time of my life when I studied abroad in Glasgow, but being able to navigate a working and social life on my own time and dime in Edinburgh showed me how capable I was in carving out a life for myself in a city 5000 miles away from home.
What was the transition home like after your job here?
- Unsurprisingly for me, it was difficult at first. Have I mentioned yet just how much I love Scotland? It broke my heart when I needed to leave Glasgow, and I very much felt the same way when it was time for me to say goodbye to Edinburgh. I wasn’t as sad this time around though, because now I know that it is entirely possible to return and spend more time in Scotland; you just have to want it enough and work hard to find a way to do it. It’s been almost six months since my time in Edinburgh ended, and while I still think of it every day, it’s with happiness instead. Scotland hasn’t seen the last of me just yet, and I’ll be back before anyone knows it!
What are you doing now?
- When I got back, I immediately got a job as a beauty adviser at a department store just because I don’t like sitting at home twiddling my thumbs and I wanted to integrate myself back into life in California as quickly as possible. Currently there are a few things in the pipeline happening for me in terms of my career, but I don’t want to jinx anything! I’ll tell you when/if they become reality.
Do you have any words of advice for future applicants?
- Let your passion for your study abroad experience shine through in your cover letter and your interview. The point of this internship is to have someone on the staff who has been through the exact experience as the incoming students and can provide reassurance, advice, and a friendly ear along with kick-butt social media skills. Hilary had mentioned that she was extremely glad to see I had applied the second time around, because it showed just how passionate I was about the position and about Scotland even despite the initial setback, so throw all your insecurities and uncertainties into the trash when you apply. You’re part of a very special group of people who had a life-changing experience, and that alone is enough to qualify you for this internship.