Kelsey O’ Connell

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What was the biggest challenge in your abroad internship? How did you negotiate it?

As an Editorial Intern at shots Magazine in London, I encountered a myriad of challenges. Shots Magazine is the world’s leading authority on creativity in advertising. They produce a magazine, website, and DVD. Their readership is extensive and subscriptions cost around 1,200 pounds per year.

I didn’t anticipate many communication problems because I figured that, as long as everyone spoke English, I’d be fine. However, I learned quickly that I would need to adjust to a new situation and a new audience. These adjustments included:

–       Spelling: As I started to write copy for the magazine and the website, I noticed that the edits I was receiving had a lot to do with my way of spelling certain words. Luckily I had a great rapport with the editors and writers, we would joke about how Brits stick “u”s wherever they want and Americans “put ‘zed’s all over the place.” However, after making a style sheet for myself that had both the American and British spellings of words, my work improved immensely.

–       Puns and phrases: When writing for the website, I learned that each small story had to have a funny or ideally punny headline. After I transitioned from news writing to puns, I learned quickly that the Brits don’t have the same funny phrases as Americans. I found myself explaining American jokes, promising that they were funny. This one we had to deal with on a case-by-case basis, which was fine because it was always fun to see the other writers look up American jokes and start laughing.

–       Technology: Coming from Elon, a rather tech savvy institution, I was so surprised to find that the magazine was running on older versions of software. There wasn’t much attention to updated software even though they were running a highly sophisticated magazine. I had to adjust to their editions of Office and remember that I couldn’t send them .docx files.

–       Accents: Part of my responsibility as the Editorial Intern was to transcribe interviews that editors conducted with directors, producers, and any other featured artists. Even though all the interviews were in English, it became difficult to transcribe the artists with accent. The magazine features advertising all over the world, so on any given day I would encounter an Italian, Spanish, and Scottish accent, all before lunch. To adjust to this, we decided that I would transcribe as much as I could and mark the times when I couldn’t figure out a word. Then the interviewer would go through and put in the missing words.

Working at shots was an invaluable experience and I think that every student should have an internship abroad before graduating. I learned so much and am still in contact with the writers at the magazine. Interning abroad is an amazing addition to your resume, especially if you come back with concrete evidence of your work. Overcoming the challenges of interning is one of the biggest learning opportunities of all.

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