Aspiring music journalist and University of Iowa student Deja Williams is one step closer to her dream after the summer internship she describes as “the greatest adventure of my life.” Williams recently interned at a music management firm in London, England. We caught up with Williams to learn more.
Hometown: Schaumburg, Illinois
Field of study: journalism and mass communication
What did you want to gain from an international internship?
I chose to participate in an international internship because I yearned to expand my global network. In my field of study, music journalism, most of the jobs in the industry are connection-based. This was my first opportunity to start building my network in the industry I desired. I wanted to learn the fundamentals of music management and the different types of surrounding occupations all while building a strong network.
Based on your experience, have you achieved what you intended? If so, in what ways?
I would say I have achieved what was possible in such a short amount of time. Music management is a gradual career that cannot be learned in one summer. My bosses are still learning, themselves, how to properly manage artists of such high caliber. With that said, I believe of the things I have learned, I’ve been given the confidence and ability to pursue careers in my preferred industry. I have all the fundamental skills that allow me to practice what I have learned this summer on my own. I have also made a new network of connections to support me when I am confused or need a helping hand down the road.
What are some of your favorite things, places, or experiences about living in London?
The only thing I can compare London to is New York. No other cities in the world have comparable energy to these places. It has been reassuring because I have always wanted to move to a city bigger than Chicago, and this summer showed me I can fearlessly take that leap after graduation. Some of my favorite activities in London have been trying new food at various markets, attending shows across London, visiting new parks, and traveling around Europe!
How has this experience changed you?
My parents have always been supportive of studying abroad since not doing so was their biggest regret in college. I knew this would be my last chance so I applied. This summer has changed my entire perspective on the world, myself, and the people I invite into my life. I feel stronger with my independence, confidence, and ability to stand-up for what I believe in. I feel no fear when I am here. I came in with a close-minded perspective on the world and am leaving with an abundance of compassion and respect for everything. It has been overwhelming and enlightening to take this journey, but I am glad I have been changed for the better.
What were some of your fears BEFORE departing for London? Did they come true…or not?
My biggest fear was being lonely and having intense ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out). I went on this trip knowing no one and initially had a tough time leaving my friends. I almost did not apply because I feared missing home too much. Thankfully, I chose the latter and have yet to feel ‘FOMO’ since. It was easy making friends and I even met some fellow Hawkeyes! My other fear was the living arrangements. London is known for having intense housing prices, so the program warned us our living situation would be small. I did not know who my roommate was and have never lived with someone I did not know. Luckily, the housing was comfortably small and my roommate was great to live with!
What advice would you give to students to help them get the most out of an international internship?
Ask questions and be curious!
You get out what you put in.
Don’t feel inferior to those around you, they are here to help you learn as much as you can so one day you can do what they’re doing!
Get to know those in the office (learning more about their personal lives helps you make meaningful connections).
There is no work that is above or below you. Be open to all types of tasks you are assigned (even if it is running to get coffee/tea!)
How will this experience shape your future?
This opportunity has been the greatest adventure of my life. Academically, I have learned how to be a teacher to those around me. Most of the knowledge a human has is from experience and not a textbook. Now I value tangible opportunities to learn from on top of the American structure I have known all my life. These experiences will help me find balance in the structured American academia with real-life experience, and how to infuse the two in my final year. Professionally, my job has taught me so much. It has opened the doors for new job opportunities I can pursue and new ideas for my brain to unpack. My job solidified my decision to pursue the music industry despite its competitive standards. This job has paved the way with my confidence as a writer and willingness to try to make a name for myself in the industry. Personally, this trip has shaped the way I view the world. I have gained international perspectives that have changed the way I think about the meaning of life. Overall, a lot was gained from this experience.
Internships abroad are coordinated by the Study Abroad office with placements coordinated with IES Internships, a unit of the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad).