For me the biggest difference between Burlington and Dublin is the amount of free time I seem to have here. I’m used to filling my week with classes, my internships, my work study job, and of course running the Environmental Club. The truth is I’m not very good at being idle and often define myself through my obligations and activities, so having lots of free time is a foreign concept for me. Thankfully, my best friend studied in Dublin last semester and through his school in the states (Bentley) began interning at The World Trade Center Dublin, a Boston based organization focusing on international trade. When it came time for him to wrap up his projects and head back to America he recommended me for the position and soon enough I was contacted by the gentlemen he worked with.
So here I am, about four weeks into the experience, and I am enjoying the enrichment this internship brings to my life in Dublin. The environment of the office has proven to be perfectly matched with my personality and work ethic; casual yet professional, humorous, fast paced, productive and task oriented. I am often updating the website with applicable news articles, speeches and trade events. Last week I was asked about my graphic design skills and put together a promotional flyer for an event later on in the year. Even though I have two GDD classes behind me, my confidence in these design skills was a bit doubtful (maybe because I’m a PR major thrown into a class of 3rd year design students?). By the time I finished the layout and put it all together from star to finish – in about 1.5 hours – it was a design project I was quite proud of. Although I am only able to dedicate only a few hours a week (about 4-6 depending on weekend travel) I find that I leave with the same feeling of accomplishment I am used to getting from a full days work at my internship at home. Maybe this is because of the fast pace and focused atmosphere there.
Obviously there is something to be gained professionally from procuring a successful internship while abroad, but it is worth noting the positive social and cultural angles as well. Since starting at the WTCD I’m getting used to slight differences, like putting the day before the month and dropping the word dollar from my vocabulary (or at least trying to!). These habits may seem trivial to some of the students studying in Dublin, but I’ve found that even just replacing the ‘thanks’ with ‘cheers’ has helped me to embrace parts of the Irish culture. One of the most interesting professional differences I’ve found here has caused me to change aspects of my own personal work ethic. After offering to update the website with different articles from my own computer when I’m not in the office, I received a response from Chris that surprised me a bit, “Work when you’re at work. & When you’re not? Don’t.” Another completely foreign concept to me. Back in Burlington, at my internship with Phish and The WaterWheel Foundation, not only am I more than willing to think about my projects and events outside of the office, but I actually enjoy doing so.
Like I mentioned before I’m most comfortable when I’m busy whether it is physically or mentally. Whether this is good or bad is not something I struggle with because it is just the way it is. What is important is having the ability to adjust to different professional (and social!) environments. I can already tell that interning at the World Trade Center Dublin is going to be an opportunity that can only enhance my experience in Dublin.