Hello from Down Under!
Please enjoy our second installment of guest blog posts from our fabulous members who are currently studying/interning abroad. The following is written by Lauren Brown, a COM senior studying in Australia and interning at Edelman.
I’ve always been one to plan. I planned on going to college, on majoring in public relations, on minoring in French. I planned on spending a semester studying in Paris, eating baguettes and shopping on the Champs Elysées. I did not plan on realizing that I didn’t want to take French any longer, cancelling my application for the Paris program and three months later, deciding to go to Sydney, Australia.
I honestly can’t remember how many times I heard “But why Australia?” And I think that was what solidified my decision for me. I didn’t know why I wanted to go to Australia, in fact, I barely knew anything about Australia (besides that they have good swimmers at the Olympics), and I wanted to try something new and completely unknown. I sent in my application, got accepted and four months later was on the LONGEST flight I have ever been on. After twenty hours in the air, a ten hour layover in Los Angeles, two novels, a magazine, a full iPod battery and more episodes of Man vs. Wild and Two and a Half Men than I care to count, I arrived in Sydney, two days after I left Boston (this still makes no sense to me, and I maintain that a day of my life was stolen).
I’ve now been here for just over two months, and my time in Australia can most accurately be explained as an insane whirlwind of activity. In the past ten weeks I have learned to surf, rapelled down a cliff (here they call it abseiling), climbed through canyons, rapelled down a waterfall, explored caves thousands of years old, kayaked with dolphins, fed wallabies and emus, gone jungle-surfing (aka ziplining) upside down, gone scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and sailed around the Whitsunday Islands. All this while taking classes and meeting with an advisor to prepare for internship placement. It’s a busy time, but it is SO worth it.
When spring break ended, I was sad and excited at the same time. My weekly travels were over, but there was still so much of Sydney to explore and the real reason I came, the internship, was about to begin. About two weeks ago I started interning at Edelman, an indepent public relations firm with offices worldwide. I’d heard of Edelman before coming to Australia, but had no idea there was an office in Sydney, and was thrilled with my placement, but nervous about what to expect. Would it be corporate and stuffy? Would I be relegated to constant photocopying and coffee runs; would my internship simply be an exercise in tedium? Hardly.
To first address my coworkers. Simply, they are fabulous. Everyone is unbelievably friendly and welcoming. Every time I step into the kitchen there is someone to chat with about the Melbourne Cup, or what to do this weekend, or the best toppings for a crumpet. A single week after my arrival, despite only telling one person that it would be my birthday, I walked into work and was immediately congratulated on my 21st by every person I walked by. When I got to my desk, a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner was up, balloons were all over and a card lay across my keyboard. Later that day there was cake (from Lindt chocolate cafe!) to celebrate, and later in the week my boss took me out for a birthday lunch. Seriously, where else does this happen? I could not ask for a better workplace environment or find coworkers more willing to give advice or lend a hand.
As for my work, it’s just as good. I’m currently working as a sustainability intern for my boss’s foundation, the One at a Time Foundation, as well as an intern for the office’s digital team. I’ve created and drafted a newsletter on my own, done research on Twitter and blogs, and am currently working on putting together an annual report and presentation for the Foundation. Unfortunately, there are only just over four weeks remaining in my internship, but I know I will leave here with some solid experience in public relations and a better understanding of the Australian workplace
Australia is often overlooked, but just because it’s far away and mostly empty doesn’t mean that nothing is happening here. Sydney is a vibrant city jam-packed with beautiful green spaces, delectable restaurants for any budget, a booming nightlife, endless shopping and dozens of attractions- from the iconic Sydney Opera House to the weekend markets full of vintage and handcrafted wares. So, if you are considering going abroad, don’t forget about Australia- you’ll find much more than kangaroos here.