Topa ’21 Reflects on London Internship Experience

By Caitlin Burns | November 17, 2020

By Katherine Haines ’21

International Business and Cultures major RaeAnn Topa ’21 said that one of the best reasons to do an internship while abroad is the connections to the people and city, which helped her feel less like a tourist when she studied in London during the fall 2019.

Topa interned for SMi group in London, a company that coordinates business-to-business conferences in different sectors like pharmaceuticals, energy, and military, through the Arcadia London Internship program. While there, Topa worked with a team of seven marketers to promote the conferences they were working on. 

“I made banners for tweets, wrote press releases, and reached out to potential media partners,” said Topa. “The English business culture really played through the way their company [SMi] worked, so I think that created another level of cultural awareness.”

For Topa, connections she made being in a professional office were something that made the experience valuable and unique. Her colleagues would often invite her out to lunch or after work outings. 

“There were a lot of restaurants in the area, so we would just go grab lunch and relax,” said Topa. “It helped me get acquainted with the culture more because I didn’t feel like an outsider.”

This isn’t Topa’s only experience at an internship; she currently works as the Marketing Intern for Arcadia University’s Honors program. In comparing the two experiences, Topa said that, for her, the London internship was more structured. Her supervisors set expectations for her, which she said challenged her to be adaptable and learn about herself. It was also her first experience in a professional office setting. 

The London Internship program also helped Topa find what she was and was not looking for in a future career, as well as develop business skills that have helped her in her upper-level classes and job interviewing.

Topa’s experience on the London Internship Program was actually her second time studying abroad in London. She went abroad in the spring of 2018 as a first-year student on the First-Year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE). However, Topa said that this second time, with the added responsibility of an internship, she felt like less of a tourist and more of a local.

“I had more responsibility and more places where I needed to be and times I needed to be there by,” said Topa. “I wasn’t always looking for someplace new to explore, but I was learning new places to explore from the people that lived there. I still had that level of getting to experience things in London, but also in a more constructed way.”

Topa’s internship helped foster some lasting connections for her, as she still speaks with many of her co-workers from SMi. 

The London Internship Program allows students to immerse themselves more in English culture by working at an internship for three full days a week, but to also continue their academics with three additional courses. Classes can be taken at the Arcadia University London Center, or the partner universities of City University and London College of Fashion. This provides an opportunity to gain experiences that add a unique qualification to a resumé.