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Jessica Chen – Sydney Summer Internship

ICONIC_InternsInterned in marketing at THE ICONIC in Sydney in summer 2015.

Internship: I interned in the Buying Department of THE ICONIC, Australia’s leading online fashion retailer. My responsibilities included managing order information between internal inventory systems and Excel, analyzing sales data, and writing sales reports. I also sat in on my manager’s showings, where representatives from different brands would introduce next season’s line. For someone pursuing a career in fashion, this experience opened my eyes to the processes that take place behind the scenes of a retail company. On slower days, I would head to the Productions Department and help out with photo shoots. I loved my workplace because everyone was welcoming, and I was given the opportunity to observe other departments.

I Learned: I learned about the prevailing influence that the United States has abroad. American media is everywhere from magazines to movie screens. Every song you hear a bar or club is played in the States as well, so you will have no problem singing along. Australians have an impressive grasp of our pop culture and politics since everything that happens in America has a ripple effect on other countries. Ironically, working at a foreign company gave me a better understanding of the American workplace and why we are such a dominant economic power. While the Australian workplace has an easygoing “work to live” mentality, the American workplace has a much stricter “live to work” lifestyle that is more efficient but at the expense of employee happiness. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses.

Studying abroad also challenged me to be a functioning adult in a short amount of time. Between class, work, exploring the city, and travelling across the country, I had to find time for basic tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking (if you want to try it, kangaroo steak is best prepared medium rare). While balancing all of this may seem overwhelming, it becomes second nature before you know it.

What Surprised Me: Australia has a vastly different culture from America, but after a few weeks of living there it almost felt like home. Experiences may vary, but I found it surprisingly easy to adjust to the Australian lifestyle.

Hardest Part: The hardest part was going home after two months. Packing all the cool things you’ve accumulated after two months. The lack of authentic American food (namely pizza and brand name cereal).

Best Part: The best parts were the people you meet and the places you go. Watching Australians’ eyes light up when you tell them you’re American never gets old.

My Tips: Save money and leave the apartment as much as possible. Every neighborhood in Sydney has a different atmosphere that’s worth discovering at least once. Also, don’t be afraid to explore by yourself! Australians will be impressed by the independence. As long as you practice good judgment, it’s an exhilarating learning experience to wander around a new country on your own—it’s the best way to break out of the American bubble.

Hidden Gems:

Sydney – Manly Beach and the Bondi to Coogee walk for quintessential Australian beaches; Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for the most stunning view of the Sydney Harbor; Mary’s for a good burger Newtown; Paramount Coffee Project for Instagram-worthy brunch; Emperor’s Garden for famous Chinatown cream puffs; World Bar for boozy teapots; Standard Bowl for drinks, dancing, and bowling; Pancakes on the Rocks for 24-hour breakfast food; Paddy’s Market for cheap groceries; the Glebe and Rocks Markets for all of your outdoor shopping needs.

Melbourne –
The graffiti in hidden alleyways (check out Hosier Lane); Brighton Beach bathing boxes; St. Kilda pier for wild penguins!

Jessica Wong, Sydney Internship

Jessica Wong Internship_The IconicInterned in Merchandise Planning at the Iconic, an online fashion startup, Fall 2014

Internship: I spent my seven weeks interning in the merchandise planning department at The Iconic, an online fashion startup founded by an SMG alum.  My tasks ranged from forecasting and budgeting different products based on past sales and creating spreadsheets on Excel to track competitor prices and match our prices to theirs.  I spent one week in the finance department dealing with invoices and another in the marketing department sitting in on meetings.  One day we took a field trip to the company’s warehouse to see the operations side of things and helped pack and ship out orders.  This internship definitely helped me prepare for future courses and especially will prepare me for Core next year.

I Learned: I learned that while the world does not revolve around the U.S., American policy decisions have such large repercussions that Australian media covers U.S. issues.

I also learned that there is life beyond digital media by seeing that Australians do not rely on WiFi and the internet as much.  I got used to not checking Facebook and Twitter as frequently and even opted, after returning to America, to delete my Twitter account and rarely go on social media anymore.

What Surprised Me: What surprised me was how in tune Australians are to U.S. affairs, even more so than I was.  It made me feel really self-centered as a U.S. citizen, and often I ended up not telling people I was American upon meeting them although they say they could tell with my accent!

Hardest Part: I had a difficult roommate experience, and it escalated to the point where I had to move out.  There were times when I felt the program was very cliquey and times when I couldn’t connect with people in the program like I could with my friends back at home.  I learned, however, to accept that the other people on my program were probably going through the same thing and admitted that it took more than four months for me to be open with my best friends at home.   What I learned from this is that if you’re feeling alone, it’s alright. It’s a common feeling when you’re thousands of miles and numerous time zones away from your friends and family.

Best Part: The best part was the freedom to travel wherever I wanted.  I would take weekend trips all around Aussie because our class and work schedule allowed it.  To say that I went skydiving, bungee jumping, white water rafting in New Zealand, fed kangaroos, cuddled a koala, saw a wild platypus, scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef, visited the Olympic Stadiums in both Sydney and Melbourne, went zip-lining in the Daintree Rainforest and climbed Mt. Wellington in Tasmania is probably the best part of my experience.  Being in Australia made me feel alive.

My Tips: Save money because Sydney is expensive, and you’re going to end up broke.  Be your best self and be social within the first few days no matter how jet-lagged you feel.  Try to get acclimated and talk to the locals at your internship or when you go out!  You’re going to be spending all your classes with people in the program, so the only time you’ll meet locals is when you’re out or working in the Aussie workforce!

Brooklyn Hide and Gelato Messina in Surry Hills have the best food.  There aren’t any bagels in Aussie, and Brooklyn Hide is the best substitute for a New York bagel.  Paddy’s Market is open Wednesday-Sunday, and it’s basically a flea market and produce market.  Get all your produce there to save money. Your Opal Card (like a Charlie Card) will tap out after spending 15 bucks on weekdays, but on Sundays it’s 2.50. Consequently, you should go to all the beaches and far away places on Sundays to save money.

Here’s a link to my blog that I wrote chronicling my time abroad.  It goes more in depth about everything I mentioned: www.jesswong94.wordpress.com

Sheena Chatterjee, Sydney Management Internship

Rubix Cube AustraliaInterned at The Iconic, Spring 2014:

I was an Online Marketing Intern at The Iconic, the number one online fashion retailer within Australia. One big project I worked on was working with the Marketing and Creative Team to design a campaign that announced the firm’s new partnership with Nike. I worked on the brainstorming of activation points, selecting advertising agencies to create copy for the campaign, and creating cohesion throughout all parts of the campaign. I also worked on post-sales reports, showcasing to clients what advertising package they chose with the firm, and how product placement on the website, in the magazines, and on the blog helped their online sales.

I Learned: I learned that there is a balance to be struck between work and play. In Australia, people define the office as a place for work and home as a place for relaxation. I admired how Australians did not make their entire life about their work career. I hope to instill some of this mentality into my own life.

Secondly, I learned to appreciate what I have at Boston University. I spent one semester enrolled in The University of Sydney, and the resources made me realize how much I have at my disposal back at home. At Sydney Uni, their electronic library database is limited and the number of books stocked was a smaller quantity than BU. Furthermore, lecturers are not very involved with their students and I relied more on myself and the tutorial leaders for information on the class. Also, the campus is not a straight line, so definitely not as easy to navigate as Comm Ave!

I was surprised to find: I was surprised to find myself homesick. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a handful of countries, but only on brief vacations; however, I believed that six months would be too short a time to be abroad. I was so ready to experience abroad life that I did not even consider missing anything back in America. As much as I didn’t want to believe the “Adaptation Curve” shown in the information session before going abroad, it is very much accurate.

The Hardest Part: It was very hard to understand the grading at Sydney Uni. In the United States, each assignment is graded as if we start out with 100 points and you are deducted points for your mistakes. In the Australian grading system, you start out with 0 points and are awarded points based off of how the teacher feels you completed the assignment. To give an idea of what is normal in Australian grading, most are awarded between a 70-75, and 85 on upward is considered great. Rubrics are not as detailed as at home, and grading tends to be a bit more subjective.

Also, dealing with the withdrawal from American pizza. Believe me, you will miss it. A lot.

The Best Part: I loved being able to truly call Sydney my home. I used my weekends to explore all the different neighbourhoods of Sydney with my roommates. I found different eateries, bars, secret graffiti, shops, etc. We came to find our favourite spots as well as constantly stumbling upon new establishments opening up every week. I really felt comfortable navigating the city both on foot and via the city transportation. I honestly feel like I got to know Sydney even better than I know Boston!

My Tips:

  • Definitely save up your money. Sydney might be more expensive than you were anticipating. Plus, I’m sure anyone would get the itch to travel, considering there are so many wonderful places to visit! Budget your money accordingly!
  • Get out into the city and explore! There are so many neighbourhoods and establishments to explore! People in Sydney are very friendly and there are so many people to meet. Get out there and have fun with the city and its people.
  • Wear sunscreen at beach all the times. There is a huge hole in the ozone layer right above Australia. Even if you think you are immune to sunburn… trust me, you’re not.
  • Enjoy the flat whites and TimTams as long as you can.

Haley Spechler, Dublin Internship

Haley DublinInterned at Brown Thomas, a luxury department store, in the buying department, Spring 2014

Internship: For my internship, I worked in the buying department for Brown Thomas, a luxury department store that was exclusive to Ireland.

I Learned: I certainly learned to be more independent.  I had to rely on myself to navigate around a foreign city, book weekend trips to visit other cities, and still manage to find dinner for myself every night!  Being abroad alone in a new city taught me that no matter where I am, I can manage and stand on my own two feet.

Hardest Part: I think that the hardest part of living abroad for so long is always being an outsider.  I felt as though social norms were different in each place I visited, and it was hard to keep up with all of them and still be polite!

Best Part: The best part of my experience was being immersed in the Irish culture, which is warm and welcoming.  The best part of Ireland is certainly its people, and I loved speaking with tons of different Irish people, both adults and teens, about their lives in Ireland.  Turns out, they are just about the same as us, but everyone is much less angry!

My Tip: Bring a raincoat!

Bronwen Ambridge, Paris Internship Program

Paris Pic 1Interned in fashion marketing with Jasmin Santanen, Summer 2013

Internship: I worked for a designer, Jasmin Santanen, who designs luxury apparel for women by combining Nordic simplicity and Parisian elegance. Her first couture collection was presented in Paris in 2007 for which she was recognized with the “Elle Style Award” for best collection of the year.

As an intern, I took on a variety of tasks such as working on brand development presentations, researching material and compiling summary documents.

What I learned: Living in a French-speaking environment allows you to experience the French culture and language in a way you never could in the classroom. I became more accustomed to hearing French everyday and picked up colloquial sayings. I enjoyed French customs and culture such as French cuisine, museums, beautiful gardens, walking along the River Seine and stunning architecture. Studying abroad is essential when you are learning a different language because these are experiences you cannot get in school.

Compared to other work experiences: When studying international management, it is important to understand all perspectives, so it is beneficial to have work experience internationally. In Paris, I learned the European perspective on fashion, which would have been hard to do working in North America. Paris is one of the centers of the fashion industry, and, therefore, an excellent place to have work experience if you are interested in pursuing this field.

Hardest Part: When people spoke to me in French, I understood them. The most difficult part was not being afraid to make mistakes especially when communicating with the locals. Although this was challenging at times, constantly speaking French was how I improved.

Best Part: One thing I would recommend is to live with a French family, as this was one of the best parts of my experience. For this program, you have the option to live in dormitory style housing or with a host family. My host family was welcoming and friendly. They always spoke to me in French, which helped improve my language speaking skills immensely. Overall, they really made me feel at home while living abroad.

Another great part of my time abroad was my internship. For anyone who is interested in fashion, I would suggest working in Paris. I worked closely with my boss, the designer, throughout my internship, and I had a wonderful experience.