Not much to complain about over here on the other side of the pond. There’s a total of 17 Generals on my trip, and we’re all living in an awesome part of central London, with easy access to virtually anywhere in the city. I work 4 days a week for 5 hours each day and have class on Mondays only. There’s a gym 3 minutes from my front door, and I’m in one of the world’s most historic and beautiful cities. As a wrestler, the London Internship Program provided me with the perfect opportunity to study abroad given the full-year nature of my sport, and I already know it’s going to be worth every penny. To any wrestler (or any athlete, for that matter) considering studying abroad but limited by a full year schedule, I encourage you to consider one of W&L’s summer programs.
So far, this trip has provided me with some very valuable experience and knowledge that I believe will be useful not only in my next two years at W&L, but in life after I graduate. The London Internship Program has helped me shape my future career path, given me the confidence to travel virtually anywhere in the world, provided me with applicable internship experience, and allowed me to gain class credit that counts towards my major. Sure, each aspect of this program could have been achieved in one way or another had I spent my summer in the States, but I don’t believe it would have carried the same weight. Being overseas, I appreciate and internalize each of these benefits to a greater degree, and believe they also give me a bit of an advantage as it broadens my scope of the world. Immersing myself in a foreign environment has allowed me to analyze my passions with deeper clarity. I’m going to exit this program with a more accurate sense of the direction I want to head with my life after college.
The first 5 days of the London Internship Program was career week. During this time, we traveled to several prominent businesses in a variety of fields, ranging from Blackstone (one of the world’s premier investment banks), to Facebook, to Hearst (one of the world’s largest publishers), among others of equal merit. This not only gave me a first-hand look at what jobs in different industries look like in real life, but also helped me determine what kind of career I want to pursue (and what kind I don’t). Without this week of exploration, I would not have as clear a sense of direction on the path to securing a junior summer internship in the coming months.
Aside from exploring careers, free weekends have given me the opportunity to do a different kind of exploring: travel. So far, we’ve ventured into the English countryside to Wells, Bath, and Stonehenge, and we’ve also visited Edinburgh, Scotland. In the coming weeks, I have plans to go to Dublin, Barcelona, and the Netherlands. Being in London affords me with the convenience of getting to anywhere in Europe in mere hours at cheap prices. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have another opportunity like this again, so I’m traveling as much as I can. In the process, I’m quickly learning that no matter where in the world I’m dropped, I can figure it out. This feeling of independent security is a good one, and it’s going to be necessary for life outside of W&L.
The internship component of the program is different for everybody. I’m working at a small real estate firm that specializes in placing international students in affordable, quality housing. Some of my friends work in other industries, ranging from banking, to journalism, to art. It’s definitely a culture shock to see how workplace culture differs in the UK, and I know this experience will be valuable in both interviews this fall and future jobs. Working in a foreign country will definitely give me a slight edge over some of my peers in the U.S.
The class aspect of the program is exactly what I wanted out of a summer course. It’s relatively laid back and not very work-intensive, but still provides students with the opportunity to learn. The class is titled “Contemporary British Politics,” and it bears unique relevance given the current political situation of the UK, where the country has just voted to leave the EU. In a time of political and economic volatility, this class is particularly interesting. The professor is an intelligent and humorous guy as well, and he teaches at King’s college during the year, one of England’s best universities.
So far, so good over here in London. I’m excited to come back to the U.S. in a month with the knowledge I’ve gained from studying abroad and apply it to my life at home, but until then, I’m seizing every moment I have to explore. Until next time…