Marist Students Talk Relocating For An Internship

Ask most junior and senior students how they spent their time this summer, and many will report that they spent a majority of it interning. According to Time, more than 62% of the Class of 2017 graduated with at least one internship on their resume. But how many students relocate to complete an internship - moving across the country or in some instances, across the world, for a temporary employment experience? Though relocating for an internship is undoubtedly less common than completing an internship in general, there is a mighty group of intrepid students that are that are willing to start not only a new job, but start a new chapter of their lives in a city away from their hometowns. While students’ reasons for relocating are varied and multi-faceted, one idea unites many of their experiences: they were offered an opportunity they couldn’t acquire elsewhere. 

For Isabel Holden ‘20, a member of Marist’s prestigious fashion design program, there were an assortment of motives in deciding to move to Columbus, Ohio this summer to partake in Abercrombie and Fitch’s (A&F) internship program. 

“My main reason for deciding to do an internship away from home was originally related to the benefits that Abercrombie and Fitch provides for their interns,” Holden, who worked as an A&F Women’s Denim & Twill Design Intern, explains. She also admits to always being one to push herself to seek out new opportunities - embracing the opportunity to explore different parts of the country and the world. “Another huge factor is that I’ve always been one to love and crave new experiences and change,” she says. 

Holden at Abercrombie. Courtesy of Isabel Holden.

Holden at Abercrombie. Courtesy of Isabel Holden.

A former Freshman Florence Experience student, Holden has garnered experience living both stateside and in Europe during her four years at Marist - she also participated in the Marist in Manhattan program her junior year. Holden’s willingness to take a leap and live somewhere new ultimately contributed to her success at A&F, as she moved halfway across the country from her hometown in Hopkinton, MA. “When the opportunity came up for Columbus, I had no idea what to expect- but I was immediately interested. After hearing the proposal from the recruiter and about the company culture - I knew that I was going to go for it.” 

Rachel Godwin, a Business Administration major graduating in Fall 2019, echoes these sentiments. Godwin moved from Pittsfield, MA to Menomonee Falls, WI for an opportunity to work as a Merchandise Analyst Intern at Kohl’s for the summer. She reports that her favorite aspect of her internship experience was the people she met.

“They made it easy to adjust, everyone was so kind and welcoming,” Godwin says. “It was also very rewarding to finish projects and gain experience doing what I want to be doing as a career. Kohl’s highly values their interns and applies a lot of our ideas to company strategies, so it is cool to see them refer back to our projects when planning future assortments.” 

Godwin at Kohl's. Courtesy of Rachel Godwin.

Godwin at Kohl's. Courtesy of Rachel Godwin.

Godwin’s appreciation that she was allowed the opportunity to gain experience outside the classroom in the field she plans to enter is exactly what Kevin McCall, the Coordinator of Outreach, Marketing, and Communications at Marist College’s Center for Career Services, states the mission of completing an internship is.

“We encourage all Marist students to participate in experiential learning opportunities, including internships, throughout their college years,” McCall says. “Internships allow students to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to a hands-on practical experience.” Experiential learning was precisely what Jay Silver, a senior Political Science student, acquired from his internship experience during Summer 2018. Silver moved from his Connecticut hometown to intern at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in Washington, D.C. 

“My favorite part of working for the SBA was the fact that I got to work firsthand with issues revolving [around the] United States,” he says. “While working in HR that summer, I saw a lot of different projects and organizations going to fruition, as well as having an understanding of how the government works inside and out. I also really enjoyed working first hand in a very fast-paced yet organized and responsible environment.”

Silver in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Jay Silver.

Silver in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Jay Silver.

Internship environments, whether across the country from a student’s hometown or in their own backyard, seem to dictate tremendously the worth of the internship experience. Kristina Rose Ultimo, a senior fashion design student, took the ultimate leap by moving across the Atlantic Ocean to intern in London, England at Plus Samples. The opportunity left Ultimo with a collection of experiences living in an environment she couldn’t have found in the U.S. While Ultimo had previously worked and lived in London during her time studying abroad during her junior year, the experience of spending a summer in London was entirely new for Ultimo, and one she couldn’t pass up on. Her time interning in London even helped Ultimo decide that she wants to return to the U.K. for her Master’s degree. 

“Life happens in the blink of an eye and time slips so easily through our fingertips,” she says. “Any opportunity I get to travel, especially when it can catapult my future career, are opportunities that I am sure to take advantage of.  After this summer internship experience, I hope to work in London and pursue a Fashion Merchandising MA.” 

Ultimo at her internship in London, England. Courtesy of Kristina Ultimo.

Ultimo at her internship in London, England. Courtesy of Kristina Ultimo.

Though completing an internship in a student’s home city and working in a new city can have similar benefits, there are some unique experiences that can only be experienced by relocating. Gaining an understanding of a new culture or way of life, an increased sense of independence, and opportunities for unparalleled growth have all been reported. 

“I was nervous going to the Midwest because I had never been before and didn’t necessarily think of Ohio as anything ‘fashionable’ or ‘trend forward’ but after seeing Abercrombie’s campus and learning about the opportunity to work with the different creative outlets on campus I found that Columbus could provide me with another place to call home,” Holden says. “Being in such an uncommon place for a fashion internship allowed me to learn and grow even further and take advantage of opportunities I wouldn’t be able to elsewhere.”

Godwin also reports that her internship in the Midwest allotted her educational opportunities that couldn’t be found elsewhere. This ultimately was her reasoning to make the move: to pursue something she couldn’t find by staying in Pittsfield. 

“It was an opportunity to explore a new place and be introduced to what I want to be doing as a career at a great company, it was a hard decision to make and a little scary but it was so worth it,” she says. 

While these students ultimately do walk away satisfied with their summer experiences, of course there is a learning curve and challenges. For Ultimo, these included obstacles she had to face before even getting to her internship. “The most difficult part of my experience was all the work that it took to get to London: filling out the correct documents, obtaining the visa, finding accommodation, booking the airfare, and securing a sponsorship for the Visa,” Ultimo said. Her time at Plus Samples was ultimately worth these added stressors, however. Ultimo got to attend Milano Unica, a global textile convention: something she couldn’t have done interning back home in the U.S. 

“I was sent to Milan, Italy to attend this conference on the company’s behalf to network with textile mills from every corner of the globe and select the appropriate fabrics for Plus samples to potentially place orders of in the future,” she says. 

Not everything about interning away from home is jet-setting business trips and exploring new cities; there are growing pains associated with trading a summer at home for a summer in a city where a student potentially knows no one.

“Working further is a different challenge,” says Silver. “You may not have the same comforts that you have working somewhere closer to that home state. The other difficult part was adapting to the new environment and new teammates. I had a lot of pressure on me as an intern to live up to the expectations of the organization, of my school, and of myself.” 

Godwin also admits she was originally apprehensive about moving halfway across the country to work at Kohl’s, but is ultimately thrilled she did. 

“The most difficult [thing] was having to say goodbye to my loved ones and moving halfway across the country to a place I had never been to and didn’t know anyone there already,” she says. “ I was essentially starting over for 10 weeks but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

Despite coming from a myriad of different majors and academic disciplines, a common thread unites all of these Marist students: their appreciation for the sometimes struggles but overwhelmingly triumphs of relocating, living on their own, and succeeding in a place far from their hometown. 

“If you can experience both working close to home and far from home- that is one of the most valuable things I believe you can do for your career,” Holden says. “It shows employers that you are versatile and can adjust to new, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar situations.” 

Ultimo also believes relocating for an internship gives your resume - and understanding of where you want your career path to take you - a boost. “Having an internship opportunity in a place you are not familiar with will give you insight into your future career path and industry especially if you are entering one with global roots,” she says. “Pertaining to your career, having an internship in a different city, state, or country gives you valuable talking points during an interview and makes you more knowledgeable about a different market and demographics.” 

McCall agrees. 

“Students who intern have an opportunity to learn about a company and an industry while developing skills that will be beneficial to them when they enter the workforce after they have completed their degree,” he says. “Living on their own while interning will require the student to be more self sufficient, expand their horizons, and help them develop a more global mindset.” 

As for advice for students grappling with the idea of relocating for an internship: Godwin has an important piece of advice: don’t miss out on a learning experience just because you are afraid of trying something new. 

“The best piece of advice I received was, ‘If an opportunity doesn’t terrify you then it is not worth taking.’ I received this advice days before receiving the offer to intern at Kohl’s so it was very fitting and I now know, very true,” she says.