Jimmy Luo, Sydney Management Internship
Interned in Marketing at fashion retailer The Iconic, Spring 2014
Internship: I interned at The Iconic, Australia’s leading online fashion retailer. As an intern in the marketing department, I worked specifically in the areas of search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rate optimization (CRO), and business intelligence. Most of my work involved manipulating and making sense of large datasets in order to make strategic decisions at the online and business operations levels. One of the major projects I took on involved using a software called Optimizely to conduct A/B testing across the entire website. Using the findings, we were able to redesign and implement a more modern website, thereby leading to greater traffic and revenue uplift.
I Learned: As cliché as it sounds, I learned that Australians truly have a work-to-live, rather than a live-to-work mentality. It was common among employees to hit the pub during midday for a drink or two before finishing up the last few hours of their day. Additionally, the lunch breaks were long, very long. I was encouraged to take off 45 minutes to an hour for lunch as opposed to the American workplace, which usually limits lunch to 15 to 30 minutes, at least from my past experiences. At my workplace, a “standup” was also held at the end of every week. The standup was the company’s social get-together. It was a great way to just kick back and have a couple of beers with some mates.
In terms of a personal learning experience, I learned to manage my budget wisely, especially while studying abroad in a country like Australia, where most things are twice the price of that in America (including alcohol). Because traveling was my priority, I had to make some sacrifices. My groceries consisted mainly of home brand labels and I cut back heavily on unnecessary items like junk foods.
What Surprised Me: I was very surprised to learn how lightly I could pack for my travels. On all the various trips I took around Australia and parts of Asia, I carried a single Swiss Gear backpack that held about a week’s worth of clothing max. I learned to leave behind unnecessary items and just unplug myself from technology while traveling. Personally, I think traveling is about being in the moment, and by carrying only necessities, I was truly able to do that.
Hardest Part: The hardest part of studying abroad in Australia was definitely trying to fit everything I wanted to do under my budget. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do everything on my bucket list. Fortunately, I got to visit all the places that I prioritized highly. It’s not always feasible to visit everywhere, but I think with careful planning and budget management, traveling to the places you want to visit most is doable.
Best Part: The best part of going through the Management Internship Program was definitely being able to “live abroad” rather than just “study abroad.” Unlike the Sydney Internship Program, the management program allowed us to study at the University of Sydney. Being able to study at an Australian institution was not only a great change in setting, but also it was a great way to interact with Australian students and learn more about their culture. From working in an Australian company to studying at an Australian institution, I felt like I was actually living abroad for 6 months.
My Tips: The best tip I can give to those in the management program is to just take in every moment. The six-month program starts to feel a bit long around month 5 and the anticipation of returning home starts to kick in, however, my best advice is to just fight that feeling of wanting to leave. Be in the moment as much as possible because like everything else, time seems to fly by quickly in retrospect. A couple of points I think are important to highlight:
- Walk a lot – it’s the best way to see the city.
- Appreciate the coffee and avoid Starbucks while you can.
- Get away from your BU friends and surround yourself with Australians.
- Hold back your pride a bit and don’t be that loud and obnoxious American.