Aisha Rawji, London Internship–Management Track

London Eye_Aisha

Dear London, xx Cheers, Aisha

My three month journey in London

Dear London,

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Just like the beginning of Love Actually, when Hugh Grant narrates a scene at the arrivals gate of Heathrow, my journey began full of happiness and love. Maybe it’s a ploy on Heathrow’s part, but I have never felt so proud, excited, and nervous to enter a country in my life. All I could think was “Wow, look at all these videos of the Queen. Wow, I’m so blessed to be at this airport. WOW I’M IN LONDON.”

My first mistake, however, was right when I got out of the airport and paid 80 pounds to get to my residence in South Kensington. (NOTE: NEVER EVER TAKE A TAXI FROM HEATHROW TO CENTRAL LONDON, YOU WILL REGRET IT).Living at the Crofton was a bit of a thrill, so many people packed into the residence hall, stealing from each others’ fridges, staying up until the crack of dawn for no reason. But it was, nonetheless, the best possible situation. I can’t thank the people I met enough, my new and good friends, for shaping my experience in a way I couldn’t imagine. From stuffing our faces with waffles in Amsterdam, to yelling “BONJOUR!” throughout the streets of Paris, to eating gelato on all the bridges in Florence, to missing our train in Rome, to partying it up with Pharrell in Ibiza — I couldn’t have asked for better friends to share my experience with.Back to London.

Lesson #1: Don’t rush it, enjoy it

At the beginning of my trip after reading every guide, abroad bible, London book and paper possible I created a to-do list on my notes on my iPhone. This list includes everything from ride the London Eye to walk Carnaby Street to take a cheesy picture on Abbey Road. I did successfully manage to finish 99% of the to-do list and am incredibly happy that I did. Halfway through completing my list though it dawned upon me I was really doing it wrong. It’s great to have to-do lists (yes, I am a true type-A personality), but what you shouldn’t do is be in a rush to do it all without enjoying the moment. That’s when I discovered Hyde Park, my true haven that I could find about a minute walk away from the Crofton. The days when I didn’t want to keep going, Hyde Park was always the great alternative. Rent a bike, get a bottle of wine, listen to some free music, watch some people try to impress their dates by feeding the swans and then get attacked by them —it really was a great time.

Lesson #2: Make deeper connections

Being in a new country, or anywhere for that matter, you cross paths with hundreds of people everyday that are continuing on their own journey. In Los Angeles, crossing paths mostly happens while you’re stuck in traffic on the 405. In London, although the city is quite large, crossing paths can mean on the tube, in Piccadilly Circus, in the Tech City Roundabout, at Waitrose, at Nando’s. The people I’ve met, in passing or on purpose have had amazing stories to share; from a man who was once homeless but is now working on a new startup to a random lady on the tube who shared with me terror stories about her son. Kiss them on the cheek, give them a tight hug, give them a piece of your Cadbury bar (ok, maybe not the last part). These stories and people taught me to make deeper connections, learn their names, find out where they’re from, where they’re going, where they want to go, who they want to be.

Lesson #3: Let the journey change you

Most people who go abroad decide to do so for the journey of becoming a different person. I, no doubt, was one of those people. From the beginning I kept searching for situations that could change who I am and make me a better person, more understanding, more gentle, more kind — the person I’ve always wanted to be. I distinctly remember climbing the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral thinking, “I’m a changed person, this just changed me.” What I didn’t realize for the first 11 weeks of my experience was that I didn’t need to find an experience or monument to change me, I didn’t need to force myself to change, I just needed to let the journey change me. From start to finish it changed me, whether I knew it or not. And I only hope for the better.

Lesson #4: When you’re there be really, really there

I wouldn’t make the argument that I’ve been sleeping through the past 21 years of my life, but I definitely have been daydreaming through it. In Yoga and Bharatha Natyam, we’re taught to have drishti or focus. It’s a technique you use to first focus your eyes and then your mind. Being abroad has taught me the full meaning of drishti. When you’re somewhere beautiful, say touring Buckingham Palace, you’re physically there but if your mind isn’t, being there is completely pointless. If your mind has oneness with your body, what you discover is far beyond the physical — but moments.

Lesson #5: Make good memories

As a taxi driver/poet in Athens told me, “Make good memories.” Three months is a long time and I can’t necessarily remember every moment of everyday. But, the memories I will always cherish are those that were the most ridiculous, the most unlike myself, the ones that made my experience. Thirty years from now I won’t necessarily remember what the significance of the Tower Bridge is but I will remember the incredibly long three-hour journey that took us there — hail storms, wrong trains and all. Or a two-hour debate with my token British friend about the ups and downs of college and our youth. These will be the memories I’ll always keep.

Five lessons aren’t enough to summarize everything I’ve learned, seen or experienced in London. Nonetheless I am incredibly grateful and blessed to have been able to experience such an amazing country. Although I’ve probably experienced the best weather possible, I hope my journey ends up back here one day and my lessons continue. A huge thank you to everyone in London, my friends (TOFTB), my token British friend Iftikhar for taking me to Regency, my professors, guides, and boss/inspiration CBM. And last but not least my loving parents for giving me the opportunity to come here and truly experience what they’ve always taught me, “everything happens for a reason.”

I’ll see you soon London.




  Aisha Rawji in Lessons Learned

Rachel Kerrigan, London Internship–Management Track

Interned in Marketing with yoomi, a small start-up company, Spring 2013

Internship: I interned for yoomi, a small start-up that created a self-warming baby bottle. Yes, you read that correctly. I was a marketing intern but was able to get involved in a lot of different projects since the company was very small. For my first project, I researched and created a list of independent stores and boutiques in the UK that the company could potentially sell to. This project helped the company prepare for a trade show.

I also worked on the new support page that was launching on their website. The support page is intended to be a resource for new parents with helpful advice. I was given a list of topics, then researched and wrote the articles for the page. I really enjoyed the chance to be able to work on a project that involved more creativity. I learned the importance of maintaining a concise marketing message.

The internship was one of my favorite parts of the entire abroad experience. I learned a lot and was able to get to know my co-workers.

I Learned: I learned that it’s really easy to stick to your American ways even in Europe, but that doesn’t mean you should. It’s possible to get around without knowing a word of another language. There are McDonalds and Starbucks in most cities. You can only truly experience another culture if you make an active effort to go outside your comfort zone.

Comparing/Contrasting My Work Experiences: The biggest difference I noticed is that British people are not as straightforward. I was accustomed to supervisors directly telling me what to do or what not to do. When giving instructions, my co-workers at yoomi were much less direct, often asking, “Could you do this when you get the chance?” or, “You could work on this project, if you don’t mind.” I think this says a lot about the differences between American and British culture.

I don’t know if this is true of all British offices, but my co-workers were much less rigid with time than people I’ve worked with in the US. Meetings were often pushed back or scheduled at the last minute, which meant I had to throw away my type-A tendencies and be a little more flexible.

I would say that British people have a similar work ethic to Americans. Though some aspects of my work environment were more laid-back, my co-workers definitely put a lot into their work.

Hardest Part: The hardest part for me was being so far away from my family and friends. I learned that I could no longer just call up my mom on a whim (unless if I wanted to spend a fortune on minutes). Skype is a beautiful thing.

Best Part: I loved being able to travel all around Europe, experiencing language barriers and cultures that are vastly different. This was my first time abroad, which made it all the more exciting!

Erin Lam, London Internship–Management Track

Interned in Information Systems and Marketing at Whizz-Kidz, Spring 2013

Internship: I interned at Whizz-Kidz, a non-profit organization that raises funds to provide mobility equipment for physically and/or mentally disabled children throughout the United Kingdom. My primary responsibilities involved the Children Services Department, where I collected and analyzed client information through a central database and then relayed the information to improve their overall business processes. In addition, I assisted in creating marketing strategies and preparing for the charity’s participation in the London Marathon.

I Learned: My internship experience gave me an intriguing insight into alternative health care policies. It is well known that there is a free health care system throughout Britain. Thus, in comparison the United States systems, this indicates very different responsibilities for health professionals, technology, insurance companies, and sponsors in Britain.

I also learned how cultural and/or overall environmental differences can impact businesses and the way in which managerial procedures are run. Amongst the scope of politics, technology, and other environmental factors, business managers must be cognizant of the discrepancies between domestic and foreign markets then adjust their strategies when managing operations elsewhere. I did not realize how important cultural understanding was until it affected me in my workplace.

Comparing/Contrasting My Work Experiences: A major similarity I noticed between my work experiences in the U.S. and the U.K. is the high degree of working in teams. Both experiences encouraged team work in completion of a project as well as introduced me to people with unique cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

An intriguing activity that I experienced in London was weekly “afternoon tea” where different departments would bring food, snacks, and tea to celebrate the end of each week. This enhances office cohesion and introduces people from different departments to each other who would not have met each otherwise. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced before in the work place.

Hardest Part: Working under culturally different ethics and adhering to them was a major challenge for me. I realized that the way in which problems were resolved was very different in my London internship than my previous work experiences in the U.S. I once worked at a technology consultant group in the U.S. where compromising with the client was the ideal approach to settling a dispute. Meanwhile, at my internship in London, most of their work practices seemed more focused on finding the most effective solution to a conflict. This was especially difficult when working in teams because I was often tempted to make a compromise while my teammates were more focused on figuring out which of the options was the “right solution.” Finding the balance between ‘compromising’ and ‘directly solving’ was incredibly satisfying and led to impressive results.

Best Part: Meeting and making British friends! It was strange to be considered as ‘the visitor from America,’ but they taught me so much about their culture and took me to places I would not have gone to otherwise.


Taylor Stein, London Internship Program–Advertising & Marketing

Interned as a Marketing Assistant at a Mahiki-Island-themed bar and nightclub, Spring 2013

I Learned: Academically, I discovered how to connect what I learned in International Marketing (MK467) to real life experiences. I also learned how work culture varies depending on which country you are located and how the local population responds to different media and marketing tactics.

Personally, I learned  how to budget my time and money efficiently, how to navigate a foreign city, how to survive without 3G, the importance of respecting and understanding different local cultures, and how diversity truly enriches your life experiences.

Comparing/Contrasting My Work Experiences: The UK workplace is extremely relaxed. Deadlines, e-mails, and language are all casual and everyone in the office place seems to be on the same page. British people take work seriously, but they seem to work to live as opposed to the American culture in which people seem to live to work.

Hardest Part: The hardest part was initially adapting to the surroundings, getting acquainted with the public transportation and neighborhood.

Best Part: The best part was travelling around Europe: exploring the differences in food, nightlife, language, and social norms. I also enjoyed working with truly talented, fun, and interesting people who not only wanted me to learn from the internship but also to enjoy it.


Brent Donenfeld, London Internship Program–Management Track

Interned as a Governance and Control Analyst at Barclays, Spring 2013

I Learned: From my experience at Barclays, I learned to deal with cultural barriers that exist in diverse workplaces and grew to find cultural differences as competitive advantages.  Additionally, I learned to balance a myriad of professional commitments, as I was enrolled in studies, traveling around Europe and working nearly full-time.

Comparing/Contrasting My Work Experiences: The major difference that I noticed while working abroad was the large amount of diversity that existed in the workplace. I worked with people of different ethnicities, professional backgrounds, and countries of origin which really enhanced my learning experience in the workplace.

Hardest Part: Overcoming cultural differences that existed between the US and UK office place.

Best Part: Meeting life-long friends, traveling around Europe, and refining my professional interests as I look to enter the full-time job market.

Will Maness, London Internship Program–Management Track

Internship doing investment banking for J.P. Morgan’s European, African and Middle Eastern Rates Product Marketing Middle Office, Spring 2013

I Learned: Working at J.P. Morgan and living in London taught me how impactful cultural differences are upon behavior.  I also learned how valuable cultural diversity can be in the work place, especially in Europe.

Comparing/Contrasting My Work Experiences: In my experience, the work place environment in London is more diverse and inviting than similar institutions in the States.  Nevertheless, having worked at this multinational corporation, it was easy to see that the management and tasks were more or less consistent globally.

Hardest and Best Parts: My hardest experience at J.P. Morgan was presenting the culmination of my research and reporting to the New York office. Setting up and executing a meeting with people of significant authority as an intern is a daunting task but also an incredibly gratifying one.  This small success of mine, and the celebration of my leaving with wonderful and supportive co-workers made interning at J.P. Morgan a wonderful experience.


Erica Kurtzman, London Internship Program–Management Track

Internship doing executive recruiting for the finance industry, Spring 2012

I Learned: I learned how to travel. It may seem silly, but when you are on your own in a new city or cities without your parents, it takes trial and error to learn how to make the most of the short time you have in any one location.  Each city has its own unique offerings and I enjoyed learning how to dive into the attractions, arts, and especially cuisine of each one I visited.

I also learned how to manage work and fun.  Although this has been the challenge of my whole college career, studying abroad escalated this.  I knew I only had four months to cram as much of London and the rest of Europe into my Facebook albums, but sometimes I had to stop and remember I was still “studying” abroad.  I  learned when it was time for a new adventure in London and when I had to still write that paper.

Comparing/Contrasting My Work Experiences: My office in London was a lot more relaxed than an office in America.  They were more lenient about lunch breaks and the office was a lot more social.  They often side-tracked and talked about outside work during the work day.  My current office still goes out for happy hour, but we save social interactions for outside work hours. I have not decided if the “European way” is more or less productive, but it is definitely different.

Hardest Part: Never being settled.  Although I loved my dorm and friends, I was constantly packing, unpacking, traveling and doing something new.  I would not change that if I did the program again, but it was hard sometimes never having a week or two of doing “nothing.”

Best Part: London was and always will be the best part of my study abroad in London.  I loved traveling to new cities, but I absolutely fell in love with London while I was there.  The sheer number of attractions there are to take advantage, paired with the culture and history of the city make it the best part of my study abroad.  I still feel that I need to go back just to appreciate the city itself again.

Emmily Hu, London Internship Program—Management Track

Intern in Finance at Venn Group, Spring 2012

Internship: Billings & Account Management and Credit Control Intern at Venn Group (

 I Learned: Concentrating in Accounting and Finance at SMG, I never thought about taking a class on the E.U. All that ever mattered was the American government. Learning about another system really opened my eyes to methods other than “the American way” (similarities, differences, pros and cons, etc). Also, the class trip to Brussels was an amazing experience that introduced me to the E.U facilities and allowed me to listen to first hand accounts on what working in the E.U is like.

Additionally, working with British locals, allowed me to experience the different methods they use to carry out what may be the same tasks as in the States and to get a sense of what they consider humor. (They can be very blunt sometimes. I learned to not take anything too personally or offensively.) Working with the Brits was a blast. (Believe it or not, I started to pick up the British accent!)

Comparing/Contrasting My Work Experiences: The Brits like to take their time and check things over and over again. I feel like when Americans are given tasks, we would like to finish it as quickly as possible, get things done, then move on to whatever comes next. Also, the technology where I worked was not as fast as I experience in the States. (I once had to wait a good ten minutes for a program to start up, only to have it freeze in the middle and have to restart my computer.)

Another thing which I noticed at the office where I interned was the level of friendliness. Everyone was very comfortable with each other and top level managers were not hard to reach or “scary” at all. I met the CEO of the company my first day there, and the CFO sat at his desk 10 feet from where I sat. If someone had a question, he/she would simply ask the question out loud and whoever had the answer would just shout out the answer.

Another unique aspect was the amount of motivation provided by higher level managers to the employees. The last Friday of every month a party would be thrown from 3 to 5pm at the office. At each party, there would be a competition between four groups of employees put together randomly. One competition, which I judged, required each team to invent a mobile device from everyday household items. Whichever team created a device that could travel furthest across the office floor won a free lunch with our CFO and 50 Vennture points, company points that could be redeemed for prizes – movie tickets, weekend trips, etc. Although everyone was very competitive (they bribed me with sweets and coffee), people laughed and mingled throughout the party, which included free cheese and crackers and champagne. Where in the States can you find something like that happening?

Hardest Part: Being so far away from home for such a long period of time. At the beginning, I would listen to my roommates complain about how homesick they were, and I would not understand why they would want to go home when they just got to London. By my 3rd month there, I couldn’t wait to come back to the States. Although I Skyped with my family once a week, I still missed them greatly. I still do not regret going abroad for a semester. It was an experience of a lifetime!

Best Part: Getting a chance to explore not only London but also some of the amazing cities in neighboring countries as well. I traveled to Brussels in Belgium, Paris in France, Barcelona in Spain, and Rome, Florence, and Pisa in Italy. Seeing and experiencing the different cultures and historical aspects in all locations was priceless. Going to all these places while studying abroad was only a taste. It made me promise myself that I would definitely go back to experience all the other things which I did not have a chance to due to time limitations.

Tianfeng Sun, London Internship Program—Econ & Finance Track

This is how, where and when you fall in love with London.

Intern in Finance at Omerta Group, Summer 2012

Internship: In London, I did my internship in the Omerta Group. As an intern, I had several tasks during my tenure including researching candidates, looking up information online and on Bloomberg, answering phones, creating organizational charts, attending candidate meetings and assisting with projects.

I Learned: The first of the two important things I learned from studying abroad is that being humorous is very important in the office, at least in the company that I worked for. Seriously, you should occasionally tell jokes to make people laugh in the office; otherwise, your co-workers will get mad at you. (No, that’s not true, just kidding.) The second thing I learned from work is that initiative and creativity are more important than I thought. Before I did the internship, I thought that as an intern, I just needed to listen to my boss and do my jobs as directed. The truth proved that it was a very wrong assumption. The projects my boss asked me to do required a lot of my imagination. For example, one project was to organize foreign exchange candidates. Since there weren’t pre-established models to analyze the data, my boss asked me to create some straightforward and effective templates that were useful for foreign exchange candidates.

Comparing/Contrasting to Other Work Experiences: I used to work for a real estate company in China and the biggest difference between these two companies was the environment of the office. There was less tension in the English office. In contrast, the staff had more restrictions and rules in the office in China.

Hardest Part: The hardest part of my experience was holding conversations with people from different backgrounds.

Best Part: The best part of my experience was having a drink with my co-workers after work and talking about everyone’s stories. In the end, it is really awesome to walk on a central London Street with a hot Shiwama in your hand at midnight. You have to try it once!

Zhen Zhu, London Internship Program—Management Track


Zhen’s View of the Tate Modern

Intern in Finance at Barclays, Spring 2012

Internship: I worked at Barclays under their Wealth and Investment Management sector.  I was part of the Operational Risk team and spent a majority of my time creating supporting documents such as the Principal Risk Assessment and Key Risk Assessment for the team.

I Learned: In America, people acknowledge diversity and different ideas, but in London, it is truly a melting pot. Though I am from New York City, it was more evident in London that not only do Londoners acknowledge other races and cultures but also they have grown to live with different types of ethnicities to a greater extent. There are people from all over Europe in London, and it was amazing how everyone meshed so well together. The other thing I learned was about the English lifestyle.  I love their polite entrances, afternoon tea, and emphasis on holidays.  It was quite a breath of fresh air and a new type of pace that you cannot find in large metropolitan cities like New York.

Comparing/Contrasting to Other Work Experiences: The main difference that I saw was that the business at Barclays was much more relaxed.  People took more time to finish projects and definitely took more vacations.  While Americans are very hasty in the way they do work, rushing to finish all the work at once, Londoners definitely do take a step back to find more of a balance between life and work.  Additionally, London businesses are more diverse.  I quite enjoy workplaces that are not dominated by white males all the time.

Challenges: The most difficult part of my experience was my homesickness.  I didn’t know anyone prior to the program so I constantly missed my best friends and family.  During a vacation early in the semester to Germany, I remember wishing that they were the ones I was enjoying my time with.  However, after a few weeks, I made some really close friends and am very glad that I was able to share my abroad experience with them.

Best Part: This is a very difficult question because I had so many great experiences.  I met a lot of great people, and some of them I know will be lifetime friends.  I had an awesome experience at Barclays because I had such a genuine and caring supervisor and the funniest team. I also loved traveling around Europe on the weekends and sightseeing.  It was so cheap and convenient to go anywhere especially to places I have been reading about in my history textbooks.