Rachel Harrison, Dublin Summer Internship

The Burren, the coast of Ireland

The Burren, the coast of Ireland

Interned in the marketing department of Gourmet Food Parlour, a small restaurant chain, after freshman year, summer 2015.

Internship: For my internship in Ireland I worked in the marketing department of a company called Gourmet Food Parlour. Gourmet Food Parlour (GFP) is a small restaurant chain in the Dublin area that focuses on fresh, local and sustainable food with a great price point. Working in their head office in the marketing department, I got assigned a variety of tasks, small and large. A daily task I completed was sending out the daily specials menus to all 4 restaurants. With this task, I had to pay attention to detail for spelling and word choice along with marketing these dishes to the best of my ability. A larger task I completed was creating a database of all the local businesses in a certain area that we could target for catering orders. This was a tedious job but could potentially get GFP many more catering clients. There were also fun, creative tasks like designing new bakery tags and posters. No two days were the same in the GFP office.

I Learned: Working at GFP and being able to compare it to my parents local business in Virginia gave me great insight into just how similar small companies are around the world. Every entrepreneur has the same dreams and aspirations for their new company and will work hard until they’re achieved. GFP was just as focused on locally sourced produce and healthy food as my parents’ company is in the US. These similarities might seem obvious, but I was surprised at how much small companies are similar across the world. Living in another country and initially not knowing anyone really makes you depend on yourself and be self-sufficient. I think studying abroad made me grow up even more than moving to Boston did. There was no meal plan, so cooking for yourself, grocery shopping—all those simple tasks that you now have to do in a different country—make you more independent. Also, taking the initiative to research cool destinations and booking flights makes you realize that there are so many opportunities out there to take advantage of.

What Surprised Me: Traveling to Ireland, an English speaking country, I didn’t think there would be much of a culture shock and for the first week that was true. However, as you live in a different country, all the minor things they do differently (driving on the opposite side of the road, the faucet turning in opposite ways, different words for things) really start to surprise you. I was surprised about how much I kept discovering was different and new, but this also made the trip that much more of a great experience

Hardest Part: The hardest part of my experience was the internship. Having just completed freshman year I had never had an internship before, so I didn’t know what to expect much less at an Irish Internship. The commuting was a struggle at times. I worked in Swords which is a little bit away from the DCU dorms, and my commute sometimes took an hour and 15 minutes including all the walking. Prepare for a potentially long commute to work on the public transportation. Also, the Irish workplace runs a little differently, than the American, so prepare for a different work culture (not a bad culture, just different).

Best Part: The people and the relationships I formed were the best part of the trip for me. The best friends I made on this trip were from Villanova, UNC and Williams, so having the opportunity to meet people from different colleges was great. Also the locals that I met at work were so open and friendly and wanted to make sure I was enjoying myself. Ireland is a country full of immigrants, so not only did I meet Irish people but also a lot of the individuals I worked with were from all over the world (Hungary, Spain, Slovakia). Talking to them about their cultures was a great experience.

My Tips: First of all, don’t make the same mistake I made. Get a credit card/debit card that does not charge you $32947392487 in international transaction fees. Remember, it’s Ireland, and the sun might not shine. Pack some sweaters even in the summer. Take advantage of every opportunity. If there’s a group of students traveling someplace, go with them and enjoy your time!

Hidden Gems: 

While you’re in Ireland take some weekend trips to other European destinations (Copenhagen was amazing). Try local coffee shops and local pubs (finally a 19 year old can drink legally!). Dawson St has great restaurants, Harcourt St has fun night life and the Temple Bar area has good local pubs.