An Internship Abroad at the Irish Innocence Project

Aug 3, 2015 10:46:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

CAPA Study Abroad Interview: Maggie Moriarty

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Meet Maggie, a University of Massachusetts - Amherst student who studied abroad in Dublin with CAPA International Education during Spring semester 2015. Below, she talks about the value of her internship with the Irish Innocence Project and the impact she made on the organization as well as how her time in Dublin changed her personally and influenced her future career goals. 

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.

MAGGIE MORIARTY: I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland from my home institution of the University of Massachusetts - Amherst as a junior communication major. I enjoy hanging out with friends, being outdoors and being active.
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CW: Talk about your pre-departure experience. How did you finally make the decision to go abroad? What was the process you went through? 
MM: I had been thinking about going abroad since I was in middle school because my mom would always tell me about how she regrets not going when she was in college. I started seriously considering going abroad my sophomore year when I realized I needed a break from school and wanted to gain worldwide knowledge and experience. I began going to my school’s study abroad office the end of my sophomore year and started considering my options for a semester abroad.

My main worry as far as academics was if I was going to be able to earn enough credits to graduate if I studied abroad. Luckily my school was extremely helpful every step of the way and I am actually earning more credit from going abroad. Of course I was also worried about traveling to a different country completely by myself and not being able to see my family for four months, but luckily it was all worth it.
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CW: What surprised you about your host city? What did you discover that went beyond your expectations or stereotypes that exist of the city?
MM: Before going to Dublin, I pictured a quaint, colorful vintage vibe. To my surprise, Dublin is an extremely urban city with huge buildings and crowded streets. I expected to witness a lot of Irish dancing and music, but did not realize how much of an impact the people would have on me. I miss the kindness and the wit from the Irish and will hold Dublin near to my heart for the rest of my life.
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CW: Tell us a about your internship that you completed while studying abroad, your duties and accomplishments and a bit about the company. How will this experience help you in your future career?
MM: I was a marketing intern for the Irish Innocence Project in Dublin. The Innocence Project aims to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals and I helped them plan the first ever International Conference and Film Festival.

Throughout my internship, I learned the value of research, targeting an audience, and adapting to the different work culture in Ireland. The Irish work culture is a bit different than in America as it is a relaxing setting that allowed me to gain confidence and independence. I was given tasks to do but was also given more time to complete them than I would in America.

My internship mainly allowed me to gain intercultural competence meaning I can adapt to the business methods of different countries, something that gives me an advantage in comparison to other students my age. Having freedom at my internship allowed me to gain confidence and understand that I can do whatever I put my mind to. I also am extremely appreciative of how involved I got to be on this project. Normally in the States, an internship consists of mainly admin work, but in Ireland I was able to sit in on board meetings and truly get hands on with the work given to me.
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CW: Give an example of a valuable contribution you made to your internship site and how it has impacted the operation of the workplace.
MM: One of my main duties at my internship was creating newsletters that were sent out to over a thousand people all over the world. I was writing these newsletters completely by myself and learned how to connect with all audiences on a global scale. These newsletters are used to gain attention from individuals and try to get them to register for the conference. Based on my newsletters, we had hundreds of opens and have a long list of attendees.
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CW: Describe a week in the life of a CAPA intern.
MM: I took three classes and worked 20 hours at my internship site, so my typical week was a bit strenuous! I was basically out of my room from 9:30-5:30 every day whether it was because of class or my internship or both.

A typical day at my internship started at 9:30 when I met with my advisor, Anne Driscoll. She told me what she hoped I could accomplish for that day. I checked the newsletters and the project’s email to see if we had any interested people, and tried to promote the event as much as possible.

The Learning Through Internships class was definitely my favorite, mainly because it allowed the CAPA students to bond with one another. It was a very personal class where we talked about our internships and developed a better understanding of what the rest of the students were doing. The LTI class also gave me insight into the different work cultures between Ireland and the United States. I learned why the Irish work culture is the way it is and also loved how my teacher is Irish but has lived in the States, so he has experienced the same culture shock that we have.
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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.
MM: I think my favorite activities were mainly traveling and going on day trips to see other parts of Ireland and the world. By traveling, I witnessed other cultures and types of people, which is a huge part of studying abroad. Each time I traveled I also could not wait to get back to Dublin which is something I valued so much. I have been to beautiful places, but whenever I boarded the plane to fly back to Dublin, I became giddy and realized that I made the right choice by studying in Dublin. By traveling to different countries, I was experiencing different cultures and had the chance to embrace it for a weekend.
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CW: Share an example of something specific that studying abroad in the global city of Dublin has taught you. Why is this important?
MM: For me, studying abroad mainly changed me as an individual. Prior to studying abroad I was an extremely stressed, impatient person. Since being in Ireland, I have appreciated the Irish’s easy going pace and carefree attitude and have realized that not everything has to become a huge ordeal. The world is a big, beautiful place and there is no reason to waste it by stressing. I have learned to live with people and have gained true friendships that will last a lifetime. Being in Ireland has also made me not sweat the small stuff.

Being abroad and under the supervision of my advisor, CAPA Dublin's Resident Director Susanne Bach who does so much for all of the CAPA students, I have realized that I may want to pursue a career in abroad advising after I graduate college. I need to stay connected to the Irish and feel being an abroad advisor for Irish students would be amazing. I miss Dublin so much and without a doubt will find my way back.
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CW: Where were the places you carved out as "Your Dublin" - the places you found outside of the tourist sites, the places that were most meaningful for you? What was special about them?
MM: One of my favorite things to do on a sunny day in Dublin was get a delicious chicken fillet from a small convenience store called Maguire’s and eat it on a bench along the River Liffey. I got to enjoy the sun and witness the beautiful city.

I also came to love the music scene in Dublin. I went to dinner one night at a pub and was surprised to be there for a trad session that also included Irish step dancing. I tried to experience the culture as much as I could and did a pretty good job!
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CW: What changes have you seen in yourself personally since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself professionally in terms of your future career goals?
MM: Studying abroad gave me the push I needed to transition from a dependent young girl to a mature, independent young woman. By going to Dublin without knowing anyone, I learned that I can do things on my own and can make friends quite easily. Being around such different personalities allowed me to broaden my horizons and see positives in everyone. As I said before, Ireland made me not stress out so much and allowed me to be more patient, something that I deeply appreciate as life should not be full of worry.

One of my favorite statements is that “traveling is the only thing that makes you broke but rich at the same time” and I have come to find that so true. I did things that other 21-year-olds only dream of and I had the time of my life. I cannot even pinpoint a reason why someone would not choose to study abroad. Studying in Dublin made me the happiest I’ve ever been!

Sláinte!
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Thanks Maggie!
Find out about the CAPA Dublin program

Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Interviews, Internships Abroad