When I started my journey of researching companies to study abroad with, AIFS stuck out to me because of the extensive internship program they have in place. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program, AIFS offers a 6-week summer internship placement for any major, along with taking additional classes, to earn work experience and class credit.
So many pros, right?! Getting to live in London for 9 or 12 weeks (the only two options the summer internship program offers), gaining international work experience, networking with some of the industry’s top performers, and going back to school with a killer resume. What more could you ask for?
Even through my extensive research and the website’s detailed description of every aspect, there were still a few questions I had about how the whole process worked. That’s where I want to help anyone considering doing the internship program through AIFS!
First off—DO IT! I’m now entering my fifth week of the program and I haven’t regretted it for a second. I’ve learned so much about myself and the public relations field (my major), and I know you would too in your own experience.
What’s the application process like?
The process of applying for the internship program isn’t much different from the regular study abroad program, you just have a few more forms to fill out. The most important one is the Internship Placement questionnaire. It basically just wants to know what kind of internship placement you would be wanting, in the relevant field. For instance, I’m in public relations, but my roommates are in a marketing placement and a psychology internship—any major can do this program.
This questionnaire is important because it will help the AIFS internship coordinator know what direction you want to go. Be specific. Write down exactly what you do and don’t want in an internship. Give examples of what companies you might like to work for—the more information the better.
What happens once I’m accepted?
After you’ve been accepted into the program, there isn’t much to do except apply for your student visa (AIFS will go over this process extensively), pack, and get excited for your new adventure!
What happens once when you get to London?
Once you arrive in your new city, you begin the Session A classes. They go as follows:
- One class from the session A section
- Contemporary British Culture
- Internship class (when placement starts)
- One class from session A section
- One class from session B section
- Internship class (when placement starts)
Classes will last 3 weeks. Depending on if you choose the 9-week or 12-week internship program determines if you will have Session B classes or start your 6-week internship. During these first three weeks, both the 9-week and 12-week internship participants will meet with the internship coordinator face-to-face to discuss internship opportunities. Again, be very specific! Tell them exactly what you’d like to do, ask as many questions about the industry as possible—help them find your ideal placement.
Once your meeting is over, he/she will then compile a list of companies that they think you would be a good fit with. You then research these companies (what exactly they do, what your job would entail, what their mission is, etc.), and send them back your top 3 or 4 choices. The internship coordinator will then contact these companies for you and try to set up interviews.
He/she will then be the “middle man” between you and the company(s)—setting up interview times, explaining the AIFS program to the companies, and setting up starting dates. So easy right? All you have to worry about is nailing your interview!
What’s the pre-interview and interview process like?
Once your internship coordinator has set up an interview and has made sure the time works for both you and the company, its your turn to do the work! Research the company even more, look over your resume, and have answers ready to general interview questions. Be prepared!
Once you nail your interview, it is up to the company to decide if they want to take you. Don’t let that worry you, though—you will have an internship no matter what. If the first company you interview with doesn’t work out (which rarely happens), the internship office will set you up with others until you’re happy with your placement! They work hard to make sure all parties are happy.
The internship coordinator will, again, be the “middle man” after the interview. The company will inform that individual that they will be offering you the position, at which time the coordinator will let you know, and then you accept or decline the offer to the internship coordinator. Once that happens, he/she will relay your decision back to the company.
What happens after you accept an internship?
Once you’ve landed your internship (yay!), all there is left to do is wait for your start date! The internship coordinator and the company will discuss this and let you know when to show up.
Your placement will last 6 weeks and, during the 6 weeks, you will be responsible for working three days a week, the 9-week program participants will continue the Contemporary British culture class for the remaining two days of the week, and both the 9-week and 12-week participants will have daily/weekly internship logs, a final paper, and 12-week participants will give a presentation at the end of their placements.
Anything else to note?
One additional question I had going into the program was what kind of clothes to pack for my internship. Do I pack blazers and blouses, or will the dress code be more casual? Well the truth is, you really can’t know. You won’t know where you will be working until you get overseas and interview, so you can’t know what type of clothes to bring. But don’t worry, there are plenty of options! I packed business clothes anyway with the mentality of better safe than sorry. However, I have plenty of friends that just waited until they got their internship and bought clothes over here. Either option (or others) will work, it just depends on what you prefer.
I hope this post has helped anyone with confusion about the program or that it has helped sparked interest in others unaware of this amazing program! I have absolutely loved it and I know because of this program, so many more opportunities will be available to me. If you have any other questions, the AIFS team is more than helpful in helping! All you have to do is reach out. One thing is certain, if you do this program, you will make so many new friends, have new experiences, and gain much more than you could at a random summer job. GO FOR IT!
Until next time!