Kaitlin is from North Carolina, where she studied Corporate Communications and Business Marketing at university. She participated in a Marketing Internship with World Endeavors in Sydney, Australia.
How do you feel looking back now on your experience in Australia?
There is so much I wish I would have been able to do. I made sure I did the things I most wanted to experience in Australia that were in the city. I wish I would have had the time and the money to travel to more places in Australia. Besides for the fact that Australia has so much to offer that I have yet to experience, I am happy with my time spent in Australia. Near the end of my internship Australia stopped being another country and started to feel like home. I am thrilled I took this opportunity and I learned so much from my internship and myself while participating in this experience. I grew as a person while in Sydney and my experience here gave me the confidence I needed to continue with my career. By participating in this internship I know that I can make me living working the marketing field. I wouldn’t trade my time here in Sydney for anything.
What was your first impression of Australia when you arrived?
I thought that Australia was beautiful and like no place I have ever been. Everything was new and an adventure. Every little suburb in Sydney is like its own little city. I noticed right away that every person was extremely nice and friendly and willing to have a twenty minute conversation with a perfect stranger.
It took time for the newness and the excitement of being in Australia to wear off. A building, no matter where it is located, is just a building (in most aspects). However, everything was exciting because if was different to me. However, once I got past the newness Sydney was like any other city. It had people on the go ranging from families to business people. Near the end of my stay Sydney stopped being just a place in Australia and started to feel like any other city and my home.
Why did you want to intern abroad and specifically why in Australia?
I love to travel and I had to complete an internship for my school, so why not complete an internship in Australia? When people asked me why travel half way across the world to participate in an internship when you could complete one in the States, I just responded with you wouldn’t want to spend two months in Australia. I also participated because I hope to work with international businesses and travel to all different countries in my future career so why not start with the internship.
What was a typical day for you at your internship?
The first day of my internship, they literally threw me right into the mix of things. Very little orientation, just here are some jobs you can help on, here is the materials you need to complete, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask and off I was. It was nice being given jobs that I worked on continuously. It truly made me feel like I was a part of the team. My internship responsibilities ranged from calling winners from promotions, researching competitor promotions to present to the Apollo staff, entering promotional information into databases, sending off prizes, and helping with promotional debriefs. I got to sit in multiple brainstorms and work on concepts presentations for upcoming promotions.
What was your favorite and least favorite part of your internship?
The greatest part of my internship was obtaining my confidence to do this job. It took me a couple of weeks but after many brainstorms I realized that I had what it took to do a marketing job. I never got the shot to work into the specific details of a promotion but this internship gave me the confidence that I need for my future. My least favorite part of my internship was that after weeks of doing the same projects things became very routine. It was hard for the team members to give me a lot of responsibility because of the short period of time I was here. Even though they tried to teach me new things and have me a part of more aspects of the promotion process, it is hard when you are only a temporary member.
What was your greatest challenge and greatest accomplishment at your internship?
One of the greatest challenges of the internship was trying to wrap my head around the culture of Australia. In a business where your livelihood depends on understanding your consumers, being from a different country can be a great challenge. During one of the first promotional brainstorms I attended the team members were talking about aligning prizes with a brand that would have never succeeded in the states. I had to quickly remind myself that consumers in Australia don’t want the same things at those in the States. My greatest accomplishment at my internship was being able to work on a concepts presentation for a upcoming promotion. This gave me a chance to see another part of the promotion process. I got to research and put together potential prize options for a client to approve. It truly felt like I was a part of the team.
Did you develop any relationships with your supervisors or co-workers?
The great thing about the place where I was interning was that all the team members were young and at the same point in their lives as I was. This made it easy to form relationships with them. Plus the fact that people in Australia are already nice and willing to take the time to get to know you. We often went out for lunch, had events during the workday such as cook-offs, and many hit the pub on Friday nights after work. They made the adjustment to Australia really easy.
How were your living arrangements?
The other students I lived with were all extremely nice. However, we didn’t spend a lot of time together. Most all of the other residents were students so are schedules didn’t exactly match up. While I worked all day they went to their classes and then some had a night job. But for the most part we always missed each other on the weekdays. On the weekends we would all go our separate ways eager to do our own things. Halfway through my time in Australia, a good portion of the residents moved out leaving the house pretty empty. One of the residents was in the same situation as me—an American in Sydney for an internship. She and I bonded and spent some together on the weekends and after work making the experience easier to accept.
How was the Australian food?
It is the same as American food, but with their own twists. For example, they have staples like hamburgers and French fries but the hamburgers often come topped with beet root, which is not my favorite thing. However, for the most part they had almost everything you would want the same as the USA. The only big difference tends to be the portion sizes. Drinks tend to be smaller but the food portions tend to be larger.
What kind of transportation did you generally use?
Every work day I would take the train into the city and then I would have about a fifteen walk to my internship. I could have taken another train that let me off about 5 minutes closer to my internship but then I would have had to pay an extra $17 AUD for a multiple stop train ticket. On the weekends, I took the train everywhere I needed and then walked to my final destination.
What did you do in your free time?
For the most part during my time off, I spent my time exploring the wonders of Sydney. Some of the things I did included seeing the Sydney Opera House, a whale watching experience, visiting the aquarium and wildlife centre in Sydney and visiting the Taronga Zoo (a must-do for anyone in Sydney). I wish I had the time and the money to travel more places in Australia. However, I am not disappointed because there is enough to do in Sydney to occupy my time and give me the Australian experience.
How did your time in Australia impact your future career plans?
It confirmed that working in the marketing/public relations field was what I was meant to do with my life. My internship got me excited about my future career plans and gave me the confidence to go ahead with this line of education and career.
What advice would you give someone travelling abroad?
RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH! I did a lot of research before I left and it wasn’t nearly enough. I bought three guide books and spent hours on the computer learning about my future home and I still struggled my first week or two. The first weeks I had a few bumps from trying to get money, figure out internet, and trying to find effective ways to communicate with loved ones back home.
Try to make the most of your time while abroad. There is so much I wish I would have done. Don’t be afraid to get out there because who knows when you will be back again.
Number one story you love to tell about your time abroad:
My whale-watching experience was unforgettable. We spent three hours spent following around a pod of whales who were ready to put on a show. They were about 100 feet from the boat and were constantly doing dives and tail flips for our group the entire time. The guides said that they have never seen them that active that close to the boat. It was an experience of a lifetime.
Number one challenge about being abroad:
Being away from family and friends was my biggest challenge. I didn’t realize how much I truly relied on the support of my loved ones until they weren’t around. It was hard not being able to talk to them because it is so expensive to call home. And without internet connection email and options like Skype were out of the question.
Most important thing you gained from your time abroad:
I gained confidence for my future. Actually participating in projects and tasks that could be the same of my future job and being able to complete the tasks gave me more than any classroom could. This internship truly prepared me for my future.
How did you hear about World Endeavors, and why did you choose World Endeavors over other programs?
I heard about the World Endeavors program from my University. It was the program that my school recommended to me when I expressed interest in participating in an international internship. I didn’t even look into any other programs.