London, November 2014
Have you ever wanted to study abroad but also wanted to do an internship? Then the IES Internships Abroad program may be perfect for you. I was recently invited to visit their London location and see first-hand the operation and meet students participating in the program.
Upon arriving in London the IES staff welcomed representatives from 12 American universities using the same orientation presentations given to students arriving for the internship program. We were given an overview of the city, transportation, customs, and safety procedures. Last summer, 65 students participated in the program working 40 hrs/week, full time and taking a 6 credit or 1 credit course in intercultural communication. Options are available in the fall and spring semesters for a full course load study abroad experience combined with a 16 hr/week internship.
The IES London staff is multi-national with extensive, personal international experience. Two employer relations reps seek intern opportunities through personal and professional connects much like we do in our office. After meeting the staff, I was very impressed with their personal backgrounds (Diana Pierce Burgess – ABC Nightline Producer with 5 Emmy Awards, and Beth Lehlbach – Program Coordinator in Spain and South Africa), and their personal dedication to the quality of placement. Even though they only have two months between the application submission date and the visa deadline, they have a diverse reservoir of jobs. For the persistent, unique student, Diana and Beth make every effort to seek out opportunities to make suitable matches. Commutes beyond 1 hour 15 minutes are not acceptable per their policy. Before the trip, I was concerned about the quality of internships but now feel comfortable and resolved that the IES is committed in this area as a company and all offices share this core value.
Students live near Kings Cross in Nido, a private dorm shared by other international students from various programs and local universities. It’s central location and access to a major train/tube/bus station makes it an ideal location. The accommodations share a communal kitchen to encourage interaction among residents. There are full amenities provided such as post office, health and fitness, laundry facilities, dry cleaning, cafe, and recreation areas. An IES staff member lives on site with help with adjustment issues such as home sickness. He works reception at the IES office during the day and it was obvious students wanted to “hang out” in his area.
I was curious about American students interacting with British students because of the living arrangements but after speaking with students they seem to branch out very quickly and meet locals through social activities and the workplace. Other IES locations offer home stay arrangements which I personally feel enhance the experience. For this location they offer weekends in the country with families which many students enjoy.
The intercultural class is substantial and has elements of writing, journaling, assessments, research, networking, and field trips. In a student panel discussion, they raved about the quality of teaching and approach to learning. They also commented on the library and museum opportunities that are woven into the course. There are classes taught by IES faculty as well as partnering universities. Transcripts are issued by Rochester University for all locations – same process as the Study Abroad program.
I visited three employers while in London. St. John’s Place is a wealth management firm located across the street from the Bank of England. The manager has high standards for his interns and considers only top Finance majors. They have a well-defined program and would be considered an elite internship. The manager stated that he has used other companies before but much prefers IES because of his the support provided to students. He can be the employer without having to be concerned with the personal needs of a 20 year old away from home. The Fulbright Commission accepts two interns every semester. They must be very strong writers and enjoy working on a variety of tasks from award selection, marketing, public relations, development, and event planning. All majors are considered. Lastly, we toured Lloyd’s of London which is a massive organization. Positions are usually filled with local talent but an excellent location used for academic field trips and example of the rich, historic companies conducting business in England for centuries.
If you are interested in interning abroad, I have two suggestions for you:
1) Get your application in early – IES staff can do more with more time.
2) Meet with your career consultant to refine your generic cover letter before applying to be more specific about career goals and further aid in placement. United Kingdom employers highly value the “Interests” section on resumes. American interns are known for their efficiency and work ethic so it will be assumed. Choose other skills/abilities to highlight.
Our next IES Internships Abroad Information Sessions will be held Jan 27 at 5pm and Jan 28 at noon (Check FrogJobs for location). You can also find out more from your Career Consultant or Study Abroad office.
I am grateful to have had this opportunity and feel very comfortable recommending IES Abroad to students, parents, and faculty leadership.
Neeley, Career Center