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Sophie Wolff Fills Us In On Internships Abroad

 

Thinking of applying for an internship program through McGill, but unsure about how to go about doing so?  Well this week’s campus celebrity, and very recent McGill grad, gives us the lowdown on her experience abroad both with McGill and on her own.

This bright and ambitious collegiette talks academics, internships, her future, and the ins and outs of being a true Montrealer- check it out!

Major/Minor: Political Science and American History

Best McGill experience (academic or not): Well, I’d love to say that 20 years from now what I’ll remember from my time at McGill is that amazing seminar on Slavery in the US I took with Prof. Jason Opal, but realistically I think that my 3 years staffing at Management Frosh is going to be my most memorable McGill experience! 

Worst McGill experience: It’s a worst/best moment, but last year’s epic battle of the white squares versus red squares at the Arts GA strike vote… Waiting in line for hours, all the procedural kerfuffle, all the while trying to finish a paper due the next day.  Oh, student politics at McGill!

Favorite place to study on campus: Law Library 4th floor forever!

Favorite lunch spot on campus: Super Sandwich of course.

Right now you are in Chicago- can you tell us a little more about what you are doing there?

Yes, I really wanted to avoid the post graduation blues this spring, so I spent most of my last semester looking for internships. I was really lucky to get my current one, not only because it’s in Chicago, but also because it was in my field, and it was paid (Arts kids know that’s rarely the case).

So I’m here working for the Quebec Delegation in Chicago. The Province of Quebec has those offices all over the world and they’re basically like a chamber of commerce. I work with the economic department where we help Quebec businesses integrate the Midwestern Market. So far I’ve worked on super varied projects, from organizing trade missions to Ohio, to putting together fashion shows showcasing Quebec designers.

The best part of this internship is definitely getting to wear a flag pin to work!

What has been your favorite part about living and working in the windy city?

Getting to relate to Kanye’s songs?  No, but seriously, it’s been great. This is one of my first experiences living abroad and I think that landing in Chicago for it was good, it’s definitely a big city but with this good old Midwestern flair to it. People are super nice!

I think the breathtaking view of the downtown skyline that I have from my office is one of my favorite things working here! Never gets old!

How do people view McGill and Montreal?

How do Americans ever view Canada? Just yesterday when I said I was from Montreal, someone asked if that was the part of Canada near Alaska…All jokes aside, Montreal’s reputation is really great, the Americans I work with all want to move here!

For McGill, lots of universities here (the Quebec Delegation has various partnerships with universities for exchange or R&D programs) know it mainly as a great research center!

You also went to South America last summer through the Arts Internship program- how was that experience?

Living in rural Peru for over three months turned out to be an amazing life experience! We were 6 McGill students going there for the summer, and while we barely knew each other before going, we all became best friends. Life in a tiny Peruvian town can get a little strange at times, so it was great to have other McGill students there to share it with!

Along with two other people, I worked on a micro-business development program that sought to generate extra income for struggling farmers in a little village called Media Luna. The NGO we worked with had a broad plan of what they wanted to see happen in the village, but other than that it was entirely up to us to make it happen! It was a great work and leadership experience!

Where did you stay? What was the name of the NGO?  

We lived in a small town called Urubamba about an hour outside of Cusco (the touristy region where Machu Pichu is) and we worked for a small Peruvian NGO called Nexos Voluntarios that does all sorts of community development projects.

Can you explain how the Arts Internship program works?

It’s a good resource for anyone who wants to do an internship.  Go to their page to see what internships are offered, there are some pretty much all over the world. Applications happen in late January, then throughout the spring if you are selected for the internship, you’ll have to attend various “Going Away” sessions hosted by the Internship office. Some internships are funded, others are not. When they are not, you can apply for Arts Internships Awards!

What did you learn from these experiences?

Of course I learned a lot through these internships, but I think one of the biggest things was helping me figure out what kind of fields I like or don’t like (Non-profit, Public service, etc…). It’s helpful when you’re trying to figure out what’s next after university.

What did you miss most from Montreal when you were abroad?

It’s hard to describe but I definitely missed Montreal more than I would have thought, mostly last summer…Just the good vibes of the Montreal summer: the terraces, Mount Royal, late night poutines!

Do you recommend students try to get internships abroad? And if so, why?

Definitely do! These internship will turn out to be a lot more than only work experiences because they’ll take you way out of your comfort zone oftentimes! Besides, when else will you have the time to move to Peru or Kenya for three months? On the financial side, there’s a lot of help available at the Internship Office, generally they can ensure that students who want to go on internships can do so.

Do you see yourself working outside of Montreal later on?

For now yes! But more and more I see that at some point I would want to come back permanently.

Considering you are already done school, what are your plans for when you get back to Montreal?

Mainly I want to enjoy the summer and not stress too much about what’s next! But I’m probably going to be starting law school in September, could be London or Montreal!

What is the first word that comes to mind when I say “graduation”?

Undergrad was fun!

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