Blake is a Marketing Communications major from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. He completed a Public Relations internship abroad in London, England.
How do you feel looking back on your experience in England?
At first, I didn’t miss London itself too much. It was a big change moving to a big city, but, as time passes, I miss it more. It’s really the little things, such as seeing a Facebook article about London – that sort of thing really brings me back.
Did you have any reservations before leaving for England?
I was the most nervous about all the stuff I had to do right away when getting there, such as going through customs, navigating public transit, checking in, and moving into my apartment. Luckily, the team at World Endeavors gave me plenty of information, so even though it seemed daunting, the process went smoothly.
What was your first impression of England?
That there are so many red busses! It seems like the most photographed part of London, but it really is true. There were red busses all over, even by the airport when I first arrived.
Tell us about where you lived. Did it add to your experience?
I lived with some students from France and Romania in an apartment in between the boroughs Hammersmith and Fulham. The area was definitely more residential versus commercial, which made the transition from small town Minnesota to London much more manageable. I was within walking distance of a community park that families frequented, which made the area much friendlier to me.
Tell us about a typical day for you.
My day started at 8am. After eating breakfast and getting ready, I would make my way to the Tube. Normally, I’d take the Piccadilly line because it is the fastest route to work. In the morning I would pick up the Metro, a free newspaper that provided entertainment on my way to work.
I got to work around 9:15. To start, I always checked the emails of our clients, responding to any emails we had received. I also checked the Facebook page that we ran for our Lithuanian Cheese client. Every Monday, the company runs a Facebook competition with our fans. After randomly selecting the winner, I would follow-up with them and send them their prizes.
One of the key ways we get our clients publicity is through competitions. I researched new media to hold competitions with and looked at our past records to see what competitions had run and which had been successful. I wrote the copy for these competitions before getting them approved by my manager.
I also did some work with one of our new business clients. During my internship, we finished a release that we then pitched to journalists. I was able to start pitching to smaller trade magazines, and, by the end of my internship, I was calling larger outlets such as the Telegraph!
Typically, my day concluded at 5:30pm. I picked up the evening standard and caught the Tube back to Barons Court.
How did you get around?
I primarily used the Tube to travel around London. It was easy to use, and most places give you directions to them from the nearest tube stop. In London, everyone uses the Tube since it is much more practical than driving; so, you really feel like one of the locals.
What made you want to intern abroad and specifically why in England?
I always knew I wanted to go abroad in college, I just didn’t know how or when. As I was starting to finish up my undergrad, I wanted more work experience, which is why I choose the internship route. England would provide me with the ability to practice PR without any hesitation since it is critical to be able to speak and write in the language you are working in. I was able to get more out of my experience this way.
What are you doing now? Do you have future travels plans?
I currently have no immediate travel plans as I am finishing up my last semester of college. When I do travel, I definitely want to go back to Sweden and visit more than just Stockholm.
What advice would you give someone traveling abroad?
Don’t be afraid to go alone. I didn’t know anyone when I went to London, and, on my trip to Stockholm, I was completely alone. But the time I got to travel by myself were some of the best times of my life. You can do what you want, and don’t have to feel obliged to do something because someone in your group wants to.
How did you hear about World Endeavors, and why did you choose WE over other programs?
I actually remember seeing a World Endeavors flyer hanging in my first class ever at UW-River Falls. I had always kept WE in mind, and, when I became serious about going abroad, I knew exactly where to look. I chose WE because of the options for placement and the lower cost of the program.
What’s the most important thing you gained from your time abroad?
I really gained independence from my experience. The only person responsible for my actions was me, so if I problem arose, I had to handle it. I did have a support system if there were any major issues, but handling all my issues myself really gave me more independence and confidence as I move towards graduation.