What I learnt interning abroad.

Copeland McCarter, one of our 2018 OMD Sydney Interns originally from New York, worked across our People and Development, OMD Create and Marketing teams.

How I got here.

When I first told my friends and family in the US that I had decided to push back my return flight from my semester exchange in Auckland to accept an internship in Sydney for another month the responses were varied.

“Wow, I would never do that”

 “This is such an exciting new step”

“Don’t you miss home”

In retrospect, it was a pretty crazy decision to move to a country where I didn’t know anyone, for a second time in six months. 10,000 miles (or 16,00km’s) from my home in New York City, I would be living on my own for the first time as well as starting a new internship. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but in hindsight I am so grateful that I took this chance.

Whilst most of my fellow students chose to spend their exchange semesters in the likes of Europe, I wanted to choose a road less travelled and New Zealand ticked off all the boxes! Out of all my options, NZ was the least like home and I was soon to learn that the culture and environment were completely different to what I was used to back in the United States. I was ready to take on something new, both personally and through my studies and this was the perfect opportunity. When I left for my exchange program, I had initially planned on returning home after the semester finished for my summer break (a drastic change from the winter here). However, the more time I spent in NZ, the more I realized how valuable this experience was and how glad I was that I choose an unlikely path. So, when I was given the opportunity to intern at OMD Sydney, just across the ditch, I had to take it.

The Reality.

I had a romanticized view of moving to a new county and working in a real office. However, no one tells you that you won’t be able to figure out how to make your dishwasher stop beeping in the middle of the night or how you will get extremely lost going to work on the first day. You will mispronounce almost everything because people aren’t used to your accent (the bus driver looked at me like I had two heads when I asked if this bus was going to “Pyrmont”, pronounced ‘peer-mont’) and you will have to pick up new terms of slang which don’t always make sense (I still don’t know what you’re supposed to say when someone asks “how’re you’re going”. I’m good? I’m going?). The nerves of starting a new job plus the disorientation of being alone in a new country made my first couple of days very exhausting yet very memorable.

The Learnings.

In my first week, I learnt quite a lot from my team from how to user a scanner, what an exit interview is, what “copy” means, what you do in a brainstorming meeting, that everyone walks everywhere, and that it is, in fact, pronounced “Peer-mont”. I had to quickly get over my fear of feeling annoying when asking questions about an assignment given to me. I also learned it’s okay to be utterly confused. There isn’t one right answer, and it’s valuable that everyone thinks in different ways. There are also more jobs in this company alone than I even realized existed.

I’ve learned and grown more than I was expecting to these past four weeks in the internship program. By putting myself out there I allowed myself the space to grow. Aside from gaining valuable work experience, I have now had the opportunity to learn about a new city, experience another culture, meet new people and create new friendships. Learning to live independently has ultimately helped me become more sure of myself and more confident in who I am – two very important learnings that will be invaluable when I enter the job market next year.

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