First of all, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Antonie, and I come from Dortmund, Germany and moved out of my parents’ home three years ago to study in the South of Germany in Bayreuth. During this time, I led the classic student life in a shared flat, where during the day you sit in front of thick books in libraries, and in the evening, you meet up your friends. Although I have really enjoyed the freedom of studying, I wanted to take one semester off to explore the working environment.
There are several reasons, which brought me to McOnie. The first, it is my dream to discover and to explore England. I love travelling and I have been to many European countries except England, until now. All I know about the English lifestyle, I learned through newspapers, films, music and some stories from my friends, but that was not enough for me. I realised that the only way to get an authentic insight into the culture and to satisfy my curiosity was a long-term stay in England.
The second reason is that it is more and more important in our society to speak English. Currently, I am studying international Economics and speaking fluent English is one of the key requirements to make an economic contribution worldwide. As I would like to work in an international context later on in my career, it is important for me to improve my English. Where else better to learn English than in England?
Another central reason for my internship is the International Public Relations Networks (IPRN) which connects my mother’s PR agency, based in Dortmund, Germany to the McOnie agency. When Sarah was planning to run a study about the changing landscape of PR for the International Public Relations Network, it was the perfect opportunity for me to combine work on this study with my dream of going to England. As a result, I am doing a two-month internship at McOnie supporting a research survey that has been sent to the entire network. It has been the perfect opportunity to help me gain international work experience and to get an insight into the landscape of communications.
After doing a two-week English language course in London, I started my first day at McOnie on the 14th October. The first few days were very exciting for me, as I had never worked in a foreign language before. My nervousness passed quickly as I noticed that everybody was friendly and welcoming to me. I am grateful that they have introduced me as a part of the team and awarded me with my own responsibilities and duties. The McOnie team has helped me to tackle every obstacle, even when the bus did not turn up for one week! Long story short, the bus I am taking to work is a college bus and does not run during school holidays…
After one month, I had already gained many insights into the daily work-life at McOnie. It is very interesting for me to experience a very different attitude towards work, compared to Germany. I have the impression that the working atmosphere is more relaxed than in Germany. The British attitude is very friendly. In contrast, the German people are so direct, that it is really clear what they are meaning and sometimes it can seem less friendly. You can be sure that the German people are always saying what they are thinking.
Another key learning for me is that all of the McOnie team is engaged in the business and budget objectives are more transparent within the agency, which leads to the fact that everybody is more involved and has a better overview of the current projects. Regarding communications and public relations, we have noticed that we are using different communication channels for other purposes. For example in Germany we use LinkedIn mostly for recruitment, whereas in the media landscape in Britain, LinkedIn is also used for promotion and brand awareness. All these little differences lead me to my last personal reason, why I like going abroad so much.
In my eyes understanding the difference between people, cultures and attitudes is the key driver of exchanging knowledge, in order to create a wider perspective of the world. I have been in Benin, West Africa for one year as volunteer and it was the most impressive and rewarding experience I have had, in a cultural exchange. In that time I have learned a lot about the simplicity of life, which lead me to question some German habits for the first time. Travelling and working abroad for me is a chance to expand out of the confines of that we call home, and experience a new and wider view of the world. From this point of view, the exchange has no temporal end, but also takes place after years by sharing experiences.