Career Guide

Looking back on my internship and everything I have learned

Since it’s already now December (I still can’t grasp how quickly 6 months just flew by), my internship as a marketing assistant at Regus/Spaces is now coming to an end. It’s been filled with good laughs, 1-hour lunch breaks at Pizza Pino, plenty of Nespresso coffee and endless social media posts with hashtags like #coworking and #placetowork.

After 6 months, I can finally say that I’ve grown and matured greatly from this experience. Although there was a tough adjustment period in the beginning and a lack of confidence in my skill set, the lessons that I’ve learned were invaluable just by being in a corporate environment and using my language skills on a daily basis.

I was able to narrow down my career choices and figure out what I really want to do. Now, I have a clearer sense of what my dream job would look like and what things would bring joy and fulfillment to my life. This helped me draft a list of goals and create of vision for how I’m going to get there (which I’ll write about in another blogpost).

There have definitely been some highlights. I love how in Paris you can take much longer lunch breaks than anywhere else in the world. It has actually allowed me to lunch with my teammates, stay in the loop of what’s going on in the company, hear my colleagues tell stories or give us advice on any questions we had. We basically bonded over toasted baguettes, pizza, tea and hors d’oeuvres if we had events. I’ll miss my team for sure, everyone at the Spaces reception as well as our regular clients at Spaces Opéra Garnier.

My favorite work event was the launch party for Spaces Réaumur where the concept of the night was time travel, so I dressed up as a flapper girl from the 1920s. Our team basically transformed the entire coworking area in the centre into a nightclub, with bars and food stalls themed in a different era of time. There were dancing robots, swing and hip-hop dancers, a disco ball and a DJ. I’ve never seen a work event like this one. It was truly amazing, and it meant open bar for us!! Everyone had a great time, and it was true evidence of a team effort.

Being on the marketing team meant that I was able to attend as many conferences as I wanted to for FREE. One in the summer was about Digital Natives and their consumerist habits and there was recently one about women in Artificial Intelligence. These were some of the most interesting conferences I’ve ever been to, and the networking sessions after it (I was always by the food stand) allowed me to ask questions and exchange contact details.

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This was a conference held by Gautier Guignard who managed the Fillon digital campaign

I met the most amazing people, and among them were founders, entrepreneurs and influencers who turned out to be the most kind and genuine people who love what they do. During one of our meetings, I met someone who worked for Macron’s election campaign. I recently met a CEO of an exclusive luxury-concierge company and who worked for Condé Nast in the past, and we met up for coffee. I mean, I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that before???! I also landed an interview at Glamour Magazine in Paris and published my first article in French for an e-magazine, TWENTY.

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‘Being 20 means getting out of your confort zone and taking risks. It’s discovering the unknown.’

But most of all, here are the lessons I’ve learned from being the intern:

1. You have to start somewhere. Keep in mind that this may be at the very bottom of the corporate ladder. As the intern, you’ll most likely get bombarded with administrative tasks that no one else has time to do. Filling databases, excel sheets, drawing up word documents, powerpoint presentations, drafting posters, scanning, printing, dealing with invoices are all for the intern. Word tables became my best friend. Welcome to the real world guys.

2. Maintain good relationships. As they say, business is all about relationships. It’s about respecting your colleagues and boss, asking questions if you’re unsure, listening to instructions, being truthful and owning up to a mistake you’ve made. All of these things count in order to form trust. It’s also knowing who you’re working with and what their expectations are, because this makes the job 100x easier.

3. Errors are inevitable. Don’t fear making mistakes because it will never let you improve. You’ll have to accept that you’ll be making lots of them as an intern. Whether they are typos or if you’ve accidentally deleted something, you’re going to have to learn to communicate to your boss truthfully about it. The thing is, we’re all here to learn. And no one’s perfect. But what will make you stand out from the rest is that you can come up with a solution that will impress your boss.

4. Contribute to the team using your talents. As clichéd as this might sound, bring your value and skills to the business. Do the extra work, and pinpoint those skills that will make you stand out from the rest. Because I have this blog and that I was using social media as a platform to share my blogposts, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks on producing a good Instagram feed, and at work, my boss let me draft a social media strategy presentation which was used to train the Regus centres across France. I was really proud of it, yet I still have lots to learn.

5. Know how to introduce yourself. The key to expanding your network and landing a job is to have a convincing introduction. Keep it short and sweet, and always ask the other person questions. Show who you are and what you’re good at. There are always networking opportunities, so the first step is to getting out there and introducing yourself.

6. Behave like an adult. You’re not at school anymore because you now have to work in an environment where you’re surrounded by adults. So you’re expected to act like one. Uh Oh.

7. Details make the difference. I’ve come to realize why my boss was so focused on the details on every single poster or email invitations because a typo could show that the company is unprofessional and careless. So be careful, even in the tiniest details.

8. Learn to communicate under pressure. This one is probably the hardest thing I had to do. Especially in French. Whether we had to reprint and laminate posters 10 minutes before the event or have people arrive at reception with a long list full of names arranged in random order, communication is key. At times, I struggled finding the right words to say to convey my message because I was so stressed, but I’ve learned to keep calm and deal with things even if we didn’t have a solution. I’ve had to use key words because no one has time for ‘erming’ and ‘urming’.

9. Act confident, even when you’re not. This is essential. In the workplace, it will build a lot more trust and make people feel calm if you give a confident answer. If you’re not sure of an answer, then it makes it hard for people to trust you and will instill doubt. Fake it till you make it baby!

So what’s next for me? We shall see. For the moment, I’ll be staying in Paris until March with a new 2-month internship I’ve secured. My number #1 tip is if you’re looking for an internship, try, fail and try again! You’ve just got to learn and get back up again when you fall. Also, trust yourself. You can do this!

Will be keeping you guys updated!

Thanks again for all the love and support,

Xoxo

Chloe M.