Author: Absolute Internship

If you’re walking around Shanghai and you hear music, follow it. Yes, keep walking. You’ll come across a small crowd eventually. They’re watching transfixed as a small group of elderly ladies slow dance to a resonant lament. A female Chinese voice swoons from a large speaker mounted from a moped. A few onlookers see how fun it is. They join in. Their friends come too. Everyone’s smiling or hiding a smile.

My experience as an intern has been quite different from my day to day life at home. I can’t speak for the other interns as the general consensus seems to be that many are university students who spend a large portion of their time in school. I took a less conventional route and put off college for about three years after I graduated high school to work. When I finally did start school, I opted for online courses so I could work full time and be a full time student.

While Absolute Internship has organized many major events for us, I would have to say the most significant one that contributed to my understanding of European culture have been to the more historical sights. This includes the trip to Stonehenge and listening to the various theories surrounding its construction as well as the trip to Paris the weekend before last. When touring the streets of Montmartre (which I still don’t know how to say) I got an idea of the most important aspects of European culture. I know, I know, the culture of Paris is different from the culture of France the same way the culture of London is vastly disparate from the rest of England. But these two cities held some things in common with another city I visited-Bath. All of these places were absolutely filled with pedestrian traffic. Okay there’s no revelation there. Actually what’s fascinating is the sheer amount of history these locations are filled with.

56 days. 5 Spanish cities. 25 new friends. I have been in Madrid for almost two whole months but it feels like I just arrived at the airport yesterday. Each month was filled with adventure and experiences that I will never have again. Nothing else will be able to compare to the days I spent in Madrid with amazing people from around the world!
I will be heading home with excitement to see my family and friends but I will also feel upset knowing that this experience is over. When I get home, I will have a thousand different stories to tell my mom! There are so many unforgettable memories on rooftop terraces, weekend trips, Spanish nightlife and the summer heat.

Beginning your career abroad may be one of the best decisions you make along your professional path. I would like to give others the same advice that I was given before accepting my position in Spain with Absolute Internship. So let me set the scene: After a long night of classes, homework, and officer work in one of my extracurricular clubs, I mentioned to one of the other officers that I had just applied for a position abroad, however, I was hesitant because I would have to pay to go there! In other words, I felt that I was paying to work for someone. A few of the older officers heard me, and they quickly asked where I would be interning. I replied, Madrid. They exclaimed that they had interned in the same city in the same situation without pay. More importantly, they told me to take the position if it was offered to me – that it would be worth the expense and make for one amazing experience. They couldn’t have been more right. So here is my advice: intern abroad. Your career will thank you, your future employers will thank you, and you will thank you. The experience is priceless.

Absolute Internship gave our Madrid group the chance to broaden our horizons – literally and metaphorically. Literally, we took a weekend trip to Barcelona, Spain where the horizon was made up of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and the pale blue sky that seemed to smile as I lay on my towel on the beach. Metaphorically, Absolute Internship organized two sessions with guest speakers who expanded our mindsets; the first being with two representatives from a company that one of our members was interning for and the second with the CEO of a startup company here in Madrid.

Madrid, Spain is an interesting city in the way that I quickly found myself forgetting I was actually in Spain. Now, this may surprise some people or perhaps even dishearten them, but let me explain. When my mom asked me what it was like living abroad, in Spain of all places, I realized it really didn’t feel much different than living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the semester. Cities are more alike than different all around the world, it appears. Nonetheless, to answer my mom’s question, I did notice a few differences that serve as subtle reminders of my European life.

The first thing I loved about this program was my internship. I think I got really lucky and had the opportunity to work for an interesting company. So far, I have learned a lot and am continuing to be given more responsibilities as time goes on. The work environment is really enjoyable too because it’s very relaxed which is nice because this is my first job in the business field. This program has exposed me to many professional insights that I might not have gotten at home. For example, learning to work with people on an international level.

Just do it. Intern abroad because I haven’t a good enough reason not to. An internship in another country not only gives insight in an entirely different culture, but also the added benefit of “real world” working experience. Without question, I learn at a much faster pace when everything is hands on rather than taught conceptually and written in a textbook. For something as difficult and complex as laser-cutting I went from completely clueless to being able operate it without much of a problem within the first week. That extra time gave me the opportunity to branch out to other machines where I was taught to grind and polish and “tap” metals. As an intern, I’m curious about everything about my work. I’m encouraged to ask questions there and that gives me my motivation to learn more. When I started work in programming and 3D modeling, my supervisor was initially skeptical because I knew nothing about it and interns usually have some experience before coming here. But I was determined to learn it and asked if I could read the manual and would read it for hours on my own time. Eventually, he saw my progress and decided to give me actual work. In the end, I was given the opportunity to model for a large scale project and he was impressed that I was able to finish the framework for it by the end of the week.

Before I left my home in Melbourne, Australia; almost everyone I talked to reminded me to pack warmer clothes. Because even though I was technically going in summer, London summertime is lightyears different to Melbourne’s. or so they thought. London is currently experiencing a heatwave that is so very reminiscent of home, any homesickness has evaporated. I am regretting listening to their advice as most of my clothes are too warm to comfortable wear. Good thing there is Primark; an amazing store where you can get a whole new summer wardrobe for around 50 pounds (shoes included). I highly recommend visiting the one near Tottenham Court Rd Tube Station.

In the investment banking industry, there is no normal day at work. There cannot be any expectations going to the office everyday because every day presents new challenges and new projects to tackle and solve. The part of the day that is the most routine is the commute too and from work. One of my co-workers and I leave our hotel at around 8:15am each morning and walk to the nearest metro station. After riding the metro 4 stops we get off and walk to our tower in downtown Pudong. The scenery and cityscape is absolutely amazing. Its still seems unreal working across the street from some of the tallest buildings in the world.

shanghaiBefore my departure, everyone who had been to China explained to me that the difference was compared to “night and day.” That there would be people everywhere all the time and that most people knew English so not knowing mandarin would be alright. After a week I was able to quickly realize that Shanghai is a western city, far more than any other city or town in China. For that reason, I’ve eaten at a multitude of different places. These restaurants are run by people all over the world. Even though Shanghai is a western city, not many people speak English. It makes it rather difficult to complete simple tasks, but it enhances the authentic experience. Whether it is ordering food or interacting with locals in a social manner, it is always an interesting time. It has caused me to enhance my interpersonal and communication skills.

shanghaiWalking into Standard Chartered Tower, I did not know what to expect. This was my first internship working for an investment bank. Before my departure, my professors described the lifestyle as rigorous and high paced. Walking in with that mentality had me eager to begin this new experience. My supervisor, is as intense as I imagined. The work done on a daily basis is often time pressured, but engaging. I have learned more about finance working for my supervisor in three weeks than my previous three years at Butler University.

china transportWorking at my company in China has been an eye opening experience to say the least. Working in the luxury goods industry is a unique field in which I never would have thought I would experience. Dealing with exclusive products and high net worth individuals is an invaluable learning experience, which I will take with me to my next chapter in life. The individuals in which I work with are very intelligent and successful people. They provide unique insights and alternatives to difficult situations. Although the workplace is an serious environment, my colleagues also like to have a good time. We frequent dinner specials and happy hours as a group, getting a better understanding of each other along the way.

housing in chinaBeing a confident individual, I was tremendously more excited than nervous for my adventure to Shanghai. After restlessly arriving to the Pudong International airport, our group and I were greeted by a member of the Absolute Internship team. From that moment, I knew that my experience would be extremely well accommodated. After arriving to the hotel, I was thoroughly impressed by the living conditions that we were afforded. I could not be happier to have my own bedroom, bathroom, and balcony, eighteen floors above a beautiful city setting. After a fabulous traditional style Chinese meal with our group, my roommate August and I were so eager to explore Shanghai, that we took a cab to a nearby bar. The taxi experience was as unique as the city. It was my first time interacting with a Chinese-speaking individual, so using hand gestures to describe where we wanted to go was crucial. The following morning at orientation, I got to know the rest of the Absolute Internship team, and gained some basic knowledge about Shanghai and the Chinese culture.

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