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A Day in the Life of an Intern Abroad

by AIFS Customized Faculty-Led
A Day in the Life of an Intern Abroad | AIFS Study Abroad

7:04: My alarm goes off at 7:00 AM but I stay in bed a few extra minutes. I don’t have to catch the bus until 8:00 and be on the Tube before 8:20. It’s a Monday morning after a crazy weekend in London. So staying in bed for 5 minutes won’t kill me.

This blog post is pretty much about what the title says; a day in my life as an innovation research team intern (And yes, that is my job title). The company I’m interning for is a retail trend agency meaning every quarter, they put out a book detailing upcoming innovations in the hospitality, automotive, food and drink, packaging, and other sectors. All the researchers write trend essays about why their clients should care about what they’ve put out in the past quarter. On top of the trend essays and case studies, there are news items that feature these innovations. It’s really interesting. I swear.

8:06 AM: I head off to catch the bus to the Tube. It takes about 30 minutes to get from where I’m staying to Bloomsbury where the company is located. I normally arrive 20 minutes early but in London where rush hour can be a pain, those 20 extra minutes can be the difference of arriving on time or late. Work starts at 9:00 AM and the first hour is usually catching up on emails, checking the trend feeds and getting started on the stuff I wasn’t able to finish the last time I worked. The office is a little sleepy, but we have music playing so that’s really nice.

10:20 AM: The morning meeting involving the whole research team just got out. This is where John, our editor, quickly checks up on us to see if we’re doing okay. Normally, everyone has writing or researching to do. Sometimes spotlights will need to be made and this is the researcher’s time to ask if they could get some help. I’ll be asked if I can take on some of the writing if a researcher just has a lot to do. It also gives me time to create my to do list on what stories I need to write.

On my first day, all the way back in January, this was the meeting where I was introduced to everybody. It was the first time I had ever been in a meeting like this before and I was a bit jet-lagged, so it was pretty overwhelming. Now it has just become routine.

As I sit down at my desk in front of my Mac, which made my first day a little difficult, I think back that day in January. It was overwhelming but I think that’s how it is when you’re in a new work environment plus I had just travelled over an ocean a few days before. It was the first time I had ever worked on a Mac so I’ve had to learn quickly (You can’t right click on Macs, that was a surprise). Without Julia’s, my supervisor, help, I might have never learned about the copy and paste keyboard shortcuts. But I’ve come a long way from January; I’ve researched and written my own stories, been asked to help out on bespoke projects, gone to exhibitions and used Photoshop (really basic Photoshop, but I’d like to think it still counts). So I’m not the kind of intern who just makes coffee and does copies, I’m actually doing stuff that is going to be beneficial to the team.

1:10 PM: Today was a good day for this project. We had a lunch and learn which is where everyone in the office gathers for a presentation. We’re a team of 20 so we all fit into the conference room pretty comfortably. It’s really nice working with such a small team.

Anyway, the learning part took about an hour. In that hour, we learned about connected retail, which is basically when you walk into a store and they have a digital table or there’s some kind of digital content. Some of the case studies the guy presented were covered so it was nice having the background information already and learning about how well those stores have done.

I think this kind of stuff is really interesting. I’ve never been exposed to it before just because of where I live in the US so it’s really new. Now I go out of my way to go into stores now if I see they have cool tech. For example, this past weekend, I was in Covent Garden and there was this pop-up perfume box. It was shaped like an actual perfume bottle and the artist who designed the packaging had just been there. What he had done that I found interesting was he drew on each individual perfume bottle that they were selling. That’s what drew me in initially because I thought that was the bottle’s design. I actually ended up having a 5 minute conversation about the design with the sales associate.

During my time as an intern, I’ve had the chance to cover stories on retail store designs and packaging and traveling to name a few. I would have never cared for this before but now I find it super interesting. I like learning about new pop-up shops (plus it gives me places to explore in London, such as bookshop on Brick Lane) and about how companies are trying to make flying easier. People will say stuff in conversation about shops they’ve been to and if it’s been covered, I have to add in my two cents about how that shop is using a new retail design. I know nobody cares but it’s still kind of fun to blend the work I’ve done with everyday conversation.

4:26 PM: The company’s location is really nice as well. On the days that I have to go to classes and intern, my commute is about 2 flights of stairs.

I go to school across the street so it makes my life much easier, not having to worry about leaving at a certain time to run across the city to make it to work.

That’s the big thing about the program I’m in currently. I’m here to study and work. I have to be able to balance both of them or else it won’t work out. All my grades transfer back to UW and my internship is for credit through the journalism department, so I’ve had to learn how to deal with both. Still, it’s been an amazing opportunity and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

5:26 PM: All the work I’ve done today needs to get transferred into the copy flow. This means everything I’ve written and the photos that go with the stories, have their own folder with their own name. If you don’t name the folder, then John doesn’t know what he’s looking at and there’s a good chance your story won’t be edited. So folder names are important. I usually do a mass upload at the end of the day. I like checking my work after it’s had a few hours to sit and I can look at it with a fresh set of eyes. That’s just my personal preference.

The stories will then be edited and released onto our digital platform. It’s super cool seeing stories with my byline. If you don’t know what a byline is, that’s okay, I didn’t either. A month ago, I did huge story about some of the best wearable tech items and when I sent it in, I got an email from Colin (another innovation researcher) saying, ‘Add in your byline!’ Well, since I hadn’t heard the term before (I’m sure I have but I forgot) I had to Google it (yay for Google). The byline is where your name is at the top of an article which is pretty important if you want the credit for your work.

5:30 PM: Mostly everybody in the office has gone home at this point. I have to face rush hour and get home to start studying for finals. Such is the life.

This content was contributed by Annie Todd, who studied and interned abroad in Spring 2016 on an AIFS customized faculty-led program in London, England.

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