Nathan Overlock is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A professional writing and information design major at Cedarville University, he is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Nathan tells us about the not-so-average day of a CAPA intern.
My first few months in Dublin made the city feel like a constant flurry of excitement. There was something new happening every day, with classes to attend, internships to start, tours to go on, and sights to see. But that’s just the study abroad experience; I quickly realized that work-life in Ireland takes a much more leisurely pace. When I show up to work in the US, I jump right into my first task, with supervisors constantly on hand to remind me to stay focused, avoid distractions, and meet deadlines. When I show up to my internship at Griffith College Marketing, I stop to greet everyone in the office, make myself a cup of tea or coffee, chat with my supervisor, sit down at my desk, and just take a moment to settle in before I start to work. Sometimes, it even includes a breakfast out after work hours have started. A few hours later, everyone takes an hour-long lunch before finishing off the day’s work.
Interning in another country was my biggest reason for choosing to study abroad with CAPA, over any other programs and providers. While a lot of other programs offer internship opportunities, CAPA goes the extra mile of reading through your goals, interests and resume to find you a placement. I ended up on the Digital Marketing team at Griffith College, CAPA’s Irish partner school.
While I might have made the Irish work environment sound laid back, or relaxed, the expectations at Griffith College Marketing are not. It took a few weeks to flesh out which tasks I was best suited for and what skills I could use to support my marketing team, but the big projects all started on day 1. Amid all the chatter, joking, debating, tea-drinking, and break-taking I found myself typing the conclusion of an 8-page researched report by the end of my first shift.
By the end of my first week, a technical problem from outside the college sent the office into crisis mode. I expected the size of the problem to have people running throughout the office, or shouting into phones, yet instead I saw everyone sitting dead-focused on their screens, typing non-stop, tea and conversations all on hold.
Instead of 8 hours of pressure to focus 100% on work and the job, Irish offices tend to embrace the lulls and distractions in the work day, lettings the reserves in attitude and energy get them through the busy stretches and unexpected stressors. It probably all sounds terribly inefficient, yet seeing what we manage to accomplish and the mood that everyone works with makes me wonder why I ever let myself struggle to stay busy for 8-hour work days in the U.S., instead of working when work comes, and resting and relaxing when it doesn’t.
I intended to write about a typical day in the life of a CAPA intern, but I’ve realized that typical days in Griffith College marketing don’t exist. Instead of working for a tightknit team, always reporting to the same supervisor, the lines here are blurred; I start most of my days writing and researching at my desk in the Marketing Department, but by the time I go home I might have sat in on an advertising meeting, made phone calls for admissions, created new pages for the web department, or discussed course pages with professors. In the end, I’ve had as many hectic mad rushes to finish my day’s work as I have casual mornings sipping coffee with my boss.
However, the biggest benefit of studying abroad in Ireland hasn’t been learning all the quirks of the Irish workplace: it’s been finding the ability to adapt to whatever task or work environment I get tossed into. While we constantly talk about understanding and engaging different people groups in my program in the U.S., studying in the ruralest of rural Ohio hasn’t always made that easy. Dublin might seem like a “safe” option for studying abroad from the U.S., marking the most Americanized city in Europe’s most Americanized country, but in reality Dublin is global village that doesn’t just welcome American’s: it draws in people from all over the world, allowing me to interact with people from 4 continents on a daily basis, as Griffith College welcomes students from throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America, and I collaborate on projects with an international team.
There’s no such thing as an average day as a CAPA intern, because this isn’t your average internship. I’ve loved every moment out exploring Dublin’s street, and learning about Ireland’s history and culture, but the part of studying abroad in Ireland that will have the most impact on my life once I go home—after getting engaged, that is—is the adaptability and intercultural competence I’ve learned through my internship.
Nathan's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.