Internship: I interned at JPA International, a network of independent public auditors that spans across forty countries. JPA International is headquartered in Paris and serves clients all across the globe with audit, consulting, and corporate finance. Their major clients are French corporations, specializing in French culture and the arts, as well as international companies desiring to expand their business into the French market.
I Learned: From living abroad, I was able to experience French culture to the fullest by living with a French host family. There I was able to live like a Parisian and begin to understand the utmost importance of French culture and cuisine.
From studying abroad, I learned typical French sayings and common phrases that I would not have been able to learn from an American professor. My French professors taught me practical French, not textbook French, that I was able to apply to my internship as well as my daily life in Paris. Additionally, I was able to experience and utilize what I learned in the classroom daily, which was especially rewarding for my art history course where I was able to visit the museums that housed the pieces I studied in class.
From interning abroad, I learned the importance of learning a second language. It is one thing to study French in a classroom, but it is completely different speaking French in a work environment with French colleagues. Learning French gave me the opportunity to experience the French work culture and international business, something I now have a passion for.
Comparing/Contrasting My Work Experiences: Working in France I learned how much the French value a work-life balance. My lunch breaks were normally an hour to an hour and half long, where I sat and conversed with my colleagues about their lives, French culture and life in Paris. My colleagues knew the balance of working hard during the day to enjoy their evenings and weekends, which I know is not always the case in the US.
Hardest Part: The most difficult part of my experience was getting to the point in my French speaking where I was able to comprehend everything that was said to me and also be one hundred percent comfortable speaking French with locals, not just my American friends.
Best Part: The best part of my experience was experiencing French culture and being able to use what I have been studying for the past four years. Also, my internship was an unforgettable experience that was extremely helpful for my future career.