I was sitting in a Starbucks, clad in black slacks and a blazer, sipping a grande mocha. I had an essay due the following morning and was two pages in, typing my fingers off because I had t-minus six hours to spill three thousand more words out on paper. I was flipping between Gmail, Facebook, and Pinterest for distractions every now and then, because my brain seems to work better when it’s scattered across multiple social media platforms. Somehow it seems to help me think.
I had conquered yet another page of this paper and went to check my social media, beginning with Gmail. Normally I have nothing in my inbox of vast importance, but this time I had a bold, unread gem waiting for me. It was sent from the internship office at FIE (Foundation for International Education), meaning this lone email would be the deciding factor in where I would be working for the next six weeks in London. This would be my first internship placement. This would be the result of countless hours of filling out paperwork, sending off resumes, and coming to London in the first place. This would either be really exciting or extremely nerve-racking. Or maybe both.
I took a deep breath. Sliding my mouse over to the mother lode of emails I had recently received, I clicked on it. Want to know what it said? Silly question, right? Well to finally get to the point, that email said that they’d like to congratulate me on being placed as a digital marketing intern at SalesGossip, a start-up fashion company that targets customer sales using social media. As you could imagine, I was flipping out right there in Starbucks. My smile grew tenfold, the nervousness running through my veins turned into a warm flash of happiness, and I somehow managed to quietly squeal to myself. Why contain such joy? I wasn’t about to.
My internship started two weeks after receiving that email. It was a Wednesday morning, 8 a.m. Dressed in the most fashionable outfit I could pull together, I excitedly hopped on a crowded tube car on my way to Shoreditch. If there’s one thing you need to know about Shoreditch, it’s the fact that this area of London is the most hip of it’s kind. I am certainly not the definition of hip, and I quickly learned that I once again stood out as an obvious American. That didn’t sway my excitement of being an intern at a fashion company, however. My style is my style, and that’s the way it is always going to be. Besides, being different isn’t the worst thing to be. In my opinion, standing out is better than fitting in.
I arrived in Shoreditch at 9:10 a.m., and I was standing at the entrance of SalesGossip at 9:20. I was soon greeted at the door by a stylish young man named Neil, who I later found out was my supervisor. He welcomed me with the biggest smile and gave me a tour of the building, offering me tea along the way. At that moment I knew I’d love this place.
And, I was right. Four weeks into my internship and I’ve fallen in love with SalesGossip and the people who work there. It hasn’t been the stereotypical experience that you might imagine. Not once have I made a coffee or tea run. I’ve actually been offered tea by my colleagues. Not once have I been asked to fill out paperwork or sort files either. In fact, I’ve been given a pivotal role in the company. I handle SalesGossip’s search engine optimization, do ad work via Google and Bing, target customers using their Pinterest accounts, and am in the process of directing and shooting their first-ever product video. I’m viewed as part of the SalesGossip family rather than a short-term foreign employee.
I suppose you could go ahead and say that I got lucky with my internship placement, but I like to think that it was an open mind that led me to having such luck. Either way, my experience is proof that not all internships are based around coffee runs and filing paperwork. Sometimes all you need to do is take a chance, keep an open mind, and remain optimistic. I know those three traits are what drive me to have such a positive connection with my SalesGossip co-workers. That, and of course, our shared love for English tea.