The University of Iowa

Ana Arzate reflects on her internship experience in France

April 4th, 2019

Ana Arzate (BA French, international studies ’17) completed a global internship in Paris, France, as an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa. Arzate lives in Hiawatha, Iowa, where she works at Channel Fusion as a bilingual client relationship associate. Arzate recently shared thoughts about the value of her internship experience.

Tell us about your IES internship in Paris

I worked at a start-up company called Archive Valley in the 20th arrondissement (district) in Paris. Archive Valley is a platform and tool designed to help archive researchers and providers connect and access footage that they are searching for. For example, if I was an archive researcher working on a Netflix documentary about Lady Gaga, I would use this platform as a tool to send a request for footage of Lady Gaga's concerts, interviews, growing up, and anything else that would help support my storyline about this documentary. I would then receive access to many archive sources and providers from which I could purchase footage.

Some of my duties were to research new sources of archive providers. I also conducted interviews with archive researchers that were posted on the Archive Valley blog, made phone calls to people in communities all across Europe, and helped with a voice-over tutorial for the platform.

What did you gain professionally as a result of your IES internship?

​Top 3 things I learned professionally from this internship were:

1) Teamwork/collaboration - Although I was interning for eight weeks, I saw it as an opportunity to not only immerse myself in the Parisian culture, but immerse myself in the workplace as well. I had the opportunity to really see how it was being an employee at a startup company which meant taking on tasks that were assigned to me and offering help whenever help was needed.

2) Responsibility - Along with teamwork and collaboration, responsibility was a major skill of the internship that I learned. Because I worked with a small start up company (five to ten employees/interns), that meant that I was solely responsible for the tasks that were assigned to me. In other words, I felt that I was a strong team player, where if I failed to do a task, it would affect the next person (if not, the whole team), because my tasks played a big role in moving the company forward.

3) Self-management - I was not micro-managed at my internship. I had the flexibility (with deadlines of course) to complete my tasks and go in the order that I wanted to without having a manager/supervisor micro-manage me. I turned in my tasks on time, but had to remind myself to stay focused and manage my time wisely.

Image of Ana Arzate

Ana Arzate at Channel Fusion

What did you gain personally as a result of your experience abroad?

Top 3 things I learned personally about my experience abroad are:
1) Independence - I was in a country that I had only read about and studied in textbooks. This didn't provide a full picture of what the culture was really like when I was actually there. I learned how to navigate the metro system to get from my home stay to my internship. I learned more about what I like and what I don't like (i.e., I like more of a suburb vibe where I can drive myself to the store, rather than a big city where I have to take a subway). Also, my experience abroad and internship made me more confident for what was to come in the future (interviewing, resume writing, my French language skills, and networking).
2) Respect - Not in the sense of "treat others how you want to be treated" (although still very important), but in the sense of respecting another culture and their values. Just because someone does something a certain way does not make it "wrong;" it means that they go about the problem or situation in a different way. They have a different perspective on the same situation. It's a lot different experiencing another culture than reading about it in a textbook, and I'm glad I got to experience a new perspective! Diversity is very admirable and should be respected, even if we don't share the same customs.
3) Budgeting and decision making - Something I realized (that I never really thought about) is that things are a lot more expensive in a capital city in Europe where the currency is also different, and I was the sole decision maker on how and when to spend my money.
Image of Ana Arzate in front of the Arc de Triomphe

Ana Arzate at the Arc de Triomphe
What are some of your favorite memories from your experience in Paris?
Some of my favorite memories from my experience in Paris were meeting other students in the IES program. They were all students from different parts of the U.S., and we instantly got together and did fun stuff such as: picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower (probably my favorite), travel outside of France (some of us went to Spain and the Netherlands), as well as meeting and getting to practice our French with native speakers.

Any advice you’d like to share for current UI students considering an internship abroad?

I would encourage them to take this opportunity of a lifetime. It is an eye-opening experience - especially being introduced to a different lifestyle than our own. I would advise them to be open to change, have an open mind and learn to adapt to their surroundings whether it is in their home stay or at their internship. I would also encourage them to write in a journal things or ideas they learned. And don't forget, global internships look great on a resume! Most importantly, enjoy and make the most out of it!

How has your IES internship experience helped you in your current role at Channel Fusion?

I think my IES internship experience helped me with my current role at Channel Fusion because, although they are two different markets, I can cross-reference what I learned from my internship into my current position. For example, I work with a small team now where each team player makes an impactful contribution in how we move forward and grow. I also get to utilize my language skills (French and Spanish), to communicate with our dealer network all over the world - like I did with making phone calls to different countries during my internship! Even though I had no experience in the marketing industry, I knew that I would be more confident learning and working in a new industry because of my experience at Archive Valley.

What type of support did the IES office provide to you during your experience?

The IES office was designed to be a place of security where students could feel that they were home away from home. IES provided a lot of support because they gave us the tools and training/presentations for what was to come during our time abroad. They also put together social events and exercises in order to "break the ice" not only between the students who were interning, but they involved the host families as well!
Learn more about Ana Arzate here and here.
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