London calls students to intern
Sam Stryker | Friday, February 4, 2011
For many students, interning for a company involves fetching coffee and picking up laundry for their bosses. However, some Notre Dame students studying abroad in London are defying these stereotypes as they intern for a variety of organizations.
Junior Stephen LaBrecque is working as an awards assistant for the US-UK Fulbright Commission. He said he spends most of his time finding various ways to promote the awards of the program.
“My duties include redesigning promotional material and advertisements, emailing out various department heads and society chairpersons to increase the awareness of the awards,” he said. “I also have been looking into various ways to advertise for the awards via job websites and social networking sites.”
LaBrecque said he sought an internship during his time abroad for cultural and career-driven purposes.
“I was looking for an opportunity to meet local residents of London and I also wanted to gain some new work experience,” he said.
Junior Kelsey Clemson, who is interning for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said she chose to intern to be active in London.
“[I] wanted a way to get more involved in the city I am living in,” she said. “[It is a] great hands on experience.”
Junior Alyssa Sappenfield is interning with Emmaus, a charitable organization in London. Emmaus enables the homeless to live in a community as “companions” in order to get back on there feet. They help a store sell donated items in order to fund the community.
Sappenfield said interning with the group allows her to give back to the public.
“I have always believed that we all have a responsibility to contribute to the good of society, especially to those are a vulnerable and face hardship,” she said. “Emmaus is an organization that echoes those beliefs.”
Clemson, who is coordinating with dioceses to market National Grandparent Pilgrimages in England and develop guide material for the pilgrimages, said the internship is providing her with valuable skills for life after Notre Dame.
“I am getting a lot of experience communicating with others to develop a pastorally sensitive and relevant handbook,” she said.
Sappenfield said she believes her work at Emmaus is preparing her for her postgraduate career. She said the nature of the organization is in accord with what she wants in a job.
“I am thinking of going to law school, specifically public interest law,” Sappenfield said. “I hope Emmaus will give me more hands-on service experience to prepare for a career in a field with social justice and community enrichment in mind.”
LaBrecque said one of the reasons he enjoys working with the Fulbright Commission is because the job is fast paced.
“Non-profits can’t afford a large staff, so the interns are given a lot of different projects and responsibilities,” he said.
LaBrecque said communication presents a challenge when interning in a foreign country.
“So far I’ve been laughed at for my American accent and I have to be conscious of the fact that there are differences of language,” he said. “For example, I was going to send out an email with the word ‘program,’ my boss alerted me to the fact that in the UK its ‘programme.'”
Sappenfield said encountering foreign languages proves to be a challenge with her internship.
“Accents are really hard to get used to,” she said. “There are companions from Latvia, Poland, Scotland and other places.”
Clemson said working in a professional environment in the city of London has been rewarding.
“In my experience so far, I have been really struck by the professionalism of my internship,” she said. “People seem to treat me like a co-worker rather than someone who is just helping out for four months. I definitely wasn’t expecting that.”