I’m going to be a classic millennial cliche and start this post off with one of my favourite quotes: “to travel is to live.” As cheesy as it may sound, this statement is truly one that has guided my life thus far. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve never stayed in one place for too long. Being comfortable makes me uncomfortable. Weird, right? But having this constant urge for adventure is what landed me the international internship of a lifetime two years ago. Let me tell you about it.
Rewind two years and I was an eager 21-year-old, itching to escape my humdrum life in Ottawa to explore and see the world – as most twenty-somethings do. But while a lot of people simply daydream of adventure, I’m the type of girl who goes for what she puts her mind to. If I say it, I do it. End of story (Note: after LOTS of meticulous planning of course – I’m not that care free).
At this point in my life, I was fed up with standing still and scrolling through the ‘gram wishing I was traveling to exotic destinations. I wanted to make that dream a reality. But how? It was too late for me to apply for study abroad and then… light bulb moment. What if I landed an internship overseas? I began furiously Googling.
Enter: Global Experiences. I struck gold.
In a nutshell, Global Experiences is an international internship placement company that offers university students and young professionals the chance to invest in their future in a very unique way by interning abroad. They offer countless internships within hundreds of different industries in 10 cities across the world. Where do I sign up?
And that’s exactly what I did. I filled out the application, sent it off to their placement team and (i’m) patiently waited for their response. After a few days and countless refreshing of my inbox, I finally received the ping I was so desperately waiting for, “Global Experiences Program Acceptance for Kate Taylor.” YES. I was going to Florence, Italy for the summer to work in Digital Marketing. My life just got a little more interesting.
As the true type-A gal I am, I applied for this internship over a year in advance of actually going. So when the month of June 2016 finally rolled around, I was ready to hop on that plane and not look back. I wasn’t bothered that I was heading to a foreign country all by myself where I knew absolutely no one, I knew this was exactly what I needed to do in my life. As I reminisce on this experience two years after the fact, I can honestly say it was the best experience of my life so far – both professionally and personally.
On the professional side of things, I worked in Digital Marketing at a small tour operator called We Like Tuscany that specializes in food, wine, biking and Fiat 500 tours all across the Tuscan countryside. And let me tell you, it truly was as dreamy as it sounds. I was responsible for all of their digital and social initiatives such as content creation, managing their social media, updating their website, drafting blogs and even putting together an event with local influencers. On top of all of this, I was surrounded by the best team who welcomed me with open arms and provided the best conversations over long lunches at the office.
Having the opportunity to work in an international context was an eye-opening experience and it showed me that you don’t always have to operate in a fast-paced environment to get the job done. The Italian approach was much more relaxed and stress-free. It wasn’t deadline-driven or high pressure, they worked at their own pace which is a stark contrast to the traditional North American work setting I had grown so accustomed to.
Not only does this experience still stand out on my resume, it helped me gain a greater global understanding. I’m a firm believer that self-discovery happens outside of your comfort zone and there is no better way to do this than to give yourself the opportunity to work abroad.
But work wasn’t the only thing I did while living abroad. Florence quickly became a home away from home. It was where late nights turned into early mornings and friends turned into family. I met an incredible group of girls through my program who I’m still in touch with to this day. We took advantage of that European lifestyle and traveled all across the country, partied until the sun came up and ate enough pasta to last a lifetime. From losing our keys to our Airbnb in Rome, to being stranded in Portofino due to train strikes, to breaking my toe while exploring the Amalfi Coast – my experience was so imperfectly perfect and it’s one I’ll never forget.
If there is one piece of advice I can leave you with, it’s to take advantage of your youth to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Take the leap and don’t look back! The world has so much to offer and babe, you’ve only scratched the surface.
Have you ever thought about living or working abroad? What’s holding you back? If you’re interested in learning more about my experience and all of the misadventures I faced, check out my blog, Worldly Wanders, where I candidly captured every little detail.