The best part about studying abroad in London (through FIE) is the chance to work closely with a company or organization as an intern. Not only do you have the opportunity to embrace the culture through living in London with other students your age, but you are also able to converse with true London adults in the professional atmosphere. The combination of these two spheres (social and professional) gives you extra insight into the real life of those living in London.
I was placed at Anthony Nolan, a blood cancer charity located in Belsize Park. AN (Anthony Nolan) was founded in 1974 by a woman who lost her soon to cancer and vowed to help prevent other children from dying due to lack of available donors. In brief – AN is an organization the connects potential donors and umbilical cord samples with cancer patients through the creation of the UK’s first blood stem cell registry.
There is a huge difference between the workplace here and the workplace back in the states. The biggest shock I experienced at my internship, although I have only been here for five days, comes directly from the enthusiasm of the people in my office. The Anthony Nolan headquarters are located in a quite part of town and our offices stretch between 4 separate buildings. Each division has their own separate unit and is therefore able to control the vibe of their office space and lucky for me, I am located smack dab in the middle of fundraising and event coordinating.
It is safe to say all of my previous internships were structured much differently due to the line of work they were in – however, I knew from my first day that working in an open, positive, and creative environment suited me well. Since day one, I have been thrust into the crazy and hectic world of fundraising. Brainstorm sessions. Fake press releases. Recruitment events. It sure is a whirlwind. Well not all departments here may be fast-paced and passion driven, the women and men I work with are perfect representations of what it means to “love what you do and let is show.” It is evident in everything they do, the way they speak about the organization, and the confidence they exuberate.
I spent much of my first two years of college debated what I wanted to do with my future. I tottered between doing what I knew was practical and came easy to me – business; and doing what I feel drawn too, yet is often noted as obscure and useless – English. Needless to say, I took the path less taken and changed both my major and 5 year plan to give what I love a shot.
Working here at Anthony Nolan and conversing with my colleagues these last two weeks has reassured me that I have made the right choice. Each person here will tell you, following your passion will never steer you in the wrong direction. This experience has shed light on something I never thought I would have the chance to do and has given me a clearer insight on my future.
Luanne Spence is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).