Clara studied abroad in Dublin during Fall semester 2014. She went overseas with no expectations and went home with greater confidence and a change of plans for the future. Below she talks about her social media internship with Olytico, what it was like to go from the massive New York City to the smaller global city of Dublin and her involvement in the local music scene.
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
CLARA KELLER: My name is Clara Keller and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I am a Communication Arts major with minors in Creative Writing and Journalism. I love to read and write, and I also enjoy being outside as much as possible!
Photo: Dublin Castle by Wojtek Gurak
CW: Why did you choose to study abroad with CAPA? What has been interesting about the CAPA program?
CK: I chose to study abroad with CAPA because of the internship component in their study abroad program. I thought that the opportunity to intern abroad would be a fantastic way for me to become adjusted to the culture of a different country.
CW: What were your thoughts when you were sitting on the plane to Dublin? How have you found the process of adjusting to your new environment and settling in?
CK: Before I arrive in Dublin, I was very careful not to think too much about the experience that was in front of me. I wanted to go into it with no expectations. Although I don't know anyone else that approached their study abroad experience this way, I found that it really worked for me. I was able to digest Dublin as a city completely organically without any disappointments.
CW: Where are the places you've carved out as “Your Dublin” – the Dublin you found outside of the tourist sites, the places that are most meaningful for you? What is special about them?
CK: I have found a couple favorite spots in the city that I have created meaning in. There is a vegetarian cafe called Cornucopia that I adore because it reminds me of the wholesome food that I have at home. I also have particular bars and coffee shops that I enjoy frequenting because the crowd reminds me of home. Brooklyn has a very specific aura to it, and I tend to gravitate towards the places in Dublin that remind me of my own city.
CW: What has surprised you about Dublin? What have you discovered that went beyond your expectations or stereotypes that exist of the city?
CK: Dublin has surprised me in the fact that it is so easy to manage. The city is fairly small, and for the most part all of my destinations are walking distance. I think that this is really nice for a study abroad student because the city is not overwhelming at all. I expected the people to be friendly, and I was happy to be proved right. Everyone is happy to help with directions or just chat in general which is very different than New York.
Photo: Dublin streets by Valentin Gehmacher
CW: You're interning with Olytico. Tell us about your duties and accomplishments there. Did your experience abroad in any way shape your career goals and aspirations? If so, how so?
CK: In Olytico, I contribute to a number of things. I work on the social media pages for the company and I work on projects that they give me surrounding their software. I've learned that I enjoy working in a global business and that I would want this in a future job. Developing cultural literacy is so important, and interning abroad has taught me that. I am confident that I can work in any setting after this experience.
CW: Give an example of a valuable contribution you made to your internship site and how it has impacted the operation of the workplace.
CK: A valuable contribution that I made to the internship site is the work that I've done on their social media pages. The company focuses on designing social media pages for their clients, but they have been lacking in their own presence in the digital world. I was able to improve this on a daily basis and increase their follower and engagement rates significantly.
CW: Describe your initial interview with Olytico. How did you prepare? What questions did they ask? What advice would you offer new students interviewing for an internship?
CK: Before any interview, I always try to prepare questions that I can ask the person interviewing me. I have noticed that everyone enjoys when the interviewee has questions prepared to ask. It shows their interest in the company and research behind their interest. I would advise students to do this not only for preparing for their CAPA interview, but any interview.
CW: Give us an example of an activity you pursued outside of CAPA activities that gave you a better understanding of the material you learned in one or more of your classes.
CK: One of my favorite classes in the CAPA program is the Global Cities class. In this class, we are able to explore and study Dublin. Outside of this class, I have found myself exploring the neighborhoods that we study in the class. I have become very involved in a part of the underground music scene in Dublin, and learning about the city itself has given me an advantage to learning the history behind certain venues.
Photo: Dublin sunset by Jim Nix
CW: What changes have you seen in yourself so far since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
CK: I have seen my confidence go extremely up since this study abroad program has started. I've seen what I am capable of doing, and that I can adjust to any new city. I have completely changed my future plans now that I know how capable I am of adapting to a new city, and I hope to continue my travels in whatever career I decide to pursue.