08 Aug An Absolute London Summer Internship Experience
Luna Terauchi from the University of Michigan shares her London summer internship experience working in Human Resources as one of Absolute's Intern Heroes.
Choosing to intern in London was a conscious push to get myself out of my comfort zone. After years of schooling and sustaining a comfortable academic routine, I itched to explore and understand what jobs were like in the real world. Other people might have chosen to intern closer to home, but I wanted to challenge and immerse myself within a new culture and environment. The reason I chose London was because it was a foreign international business hub, but still predominantly English speaking. I wanted a cultural experience, but didn’t want the language barrier to be a difficult obstacle to have to overcome for a one month internship.
For my London internship, I worked as a Human Resources Intern. The office consisted of approximately 20 women, each very spunky and diligent towards their work. My main duties included researching local clients and candidates, analyzing CV's, and conducting phone interviews. As an intern, it was neat to be on the other side of the job search, evaluating candidates’ skills and backgrounds and allocating roles to only the most qualified. Every day was a new learning experience, and I gradually grew confident in applying my newly acquired recruiting mentality and skills. Before my internship, I was nervous because I had minimal knowledge about recruiting. However, with the engaging work and support from my coworkers, I was pleasantly surprised during the whole experience.
Working in a foreign country had its ups and downs. Although I faced a minimal language barrier, there were times when I had trouble comprehending the British accent or habitual sayings, finding myself having to ask my coworkers to repeat themselves multiple times. Another challenge I faced was navigating the tube. Growing up in the suburbs driving to most destinations, I was quite foreign to using the subway. Everything from switching tubes to trying to comprehend the British tube announcers confused me. These were challenges I wouldn’t have faced without being in a foreign country. Wherever you intern, you’ll likely feel out of place, but these challenges will only help you adapt to your surroundings to become a more conscious individual. It took me maybe a week to confidently take the tube to work, and two weeks to feel less like a foreigner and more of a Londoner. I never had an “Aha, finally!” moment, there was more of a rapid gradual understanding of the London way of life. Towards the end of the month, what had once been challenges turned into second nature, and I felt like a local assisting tourists with directions and making this place my home.
At school, you can learn the fundamentals of business through a pseudo-perspective of academics, but your studies are insignificant if you cannot resiliently administer it to your work. The diverse dynamics between your role and the workplace will force you to think outside the academic realm and into the reality of business. For an example, in recruiting, a large portion of the role consists of verbally speaking with candidates. Even though I study Psychology and should understand and be comfortable with human interactions, I struggled with this at first. I had the responsibility to professionally speak with candidates, but I had trouble organizing and articulating my words to even form a coherent sentence. The repetition of phone calls and guidance from my coworkers definitely helped me to speak more confidently in a natural way. Without this experience, I wouldn’t have learnt the fundamental skills of professional interactions with candidates. I strongly believe that you cannot study your way into a job, it's more important to gain authentic experience to be able to truly understand and manipulate your work skills.
For future interns, I definitely advise you to take advantage of the time you have and be true to yourself. If you are slightly bashful at first like me, try to get out of that shell sooner than later and out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because of rejection or uncertainties, but reach out to your employers when you need help. I was apprehensive at first to do so, because I didn’t want to disturb or annoy anyone. From the reassurance of my supportive coworkers though, I immediately realized that my fears were frivolous. Us interns aren’t supposed to be their perfect helpers, but are there to learn. Open communication is key to run an efficient business, so always be honest with yourself and your employers.
Overall, this internship opportunity has helped me gain a more worldly perspective towards myself and the diverse environment around me. I can now see an achievable future actually working in a foreign country and having an open mind to the new experiences I will encounter. In London, I met and learned from so many amazing individuals carrying diverse knowledge and backgrounds. One important lesson I learned was that landing your dream job doesn’t solely rely on your school ranking or your grades, but more so the ability to apply your experiences and valuable skills to your work.
My experiences would not have been achievable without going through a program like Absolute. Through Absolute, I not only had the opportunity to intern in London, but also made lifelong friends and memories. Although we all came to intern in London, we had time to explore the city. My favorite memories revolve around going on London excursions with my friends after work. We’d of course explore the big touristy areas such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, but also the smaller local areas. One of my favorite memories was visiting the Taste of London in Regent’s Park with my friend after work. It was a young environment, with many of us still in our work clothes just having a fun time sipping drinks, trying new food, and listening to good-vibe live music. I definitely miss working in London and exploring with my friends, but I will ABSOLUTELY cherish my Absolute memories forever.
Apply for your London Summer Internship here!