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.