Should You Get an Internship or Study Abroad?

Italy, Leaving & Coming Home, Lost Girl of the Week, Studying Abroad, Travel Philosophy — By on March 24, 2009 at 10:37 am

When we met her last month, Syracuse University Sophomore Patty Hodapp was between a rock and a hard place. Should she accept a spot in her school’s study abroad program in Italy–or do the career-savvy thing and start looking for a magazine intership? Here’s what she decided to do, and some advice from us after the post.

By Patty Hodapp

Hello travelogue readers! My name is Patty and I am a sophomore magazine journalism major at Syracuse University. I caught the travel bug when I lived in England and Ireland as a kid. Since then I’ve been through most of northern Europe and am dying to go back. So this summer I landed a sweet studying abroad program in Florence, Italy for six weeks. Then I’ll be backpacking through Italy and Croatia afterwards. Sounds ideal? Yes, except earlier this semester I had a BIG decision to make about my summer plans, so let me back up and explain my predicament and who swung my vote.

I’m on the executive board for the Syracuse University’s chapter of the magazine networking group ED2010. We bring in professionals in the journalism world to give us college students tips on entering the industry. As luck would have it, we brought in Amanda, Jen and Holly to talk to us about their travels, blog and book in an ED2010 event in January. This was about a week before I had to decide whether I’d apply for Florence or not. I didn’t know what to do and I was anxious about it. I REALLY wanted to go to Florence but was super worried that if I didn’t get an NYC magazine internship I’d miss out big time career-wise.

When I met these girls I told them my dilemma. Who better to ask than three girls who quit their jobs to travel the world, right? Plus, since Amanda was an internship coordinator for SELF magazine, she of all people would know what I should do. We talked about my options, and it was then that my love affair with Lost Girls started. Unanimously, they eagerly pushed me to go to Florence. It took three minutes and my mind (and heart) was made up.

A few weeks later, Holly and I sat down for coffee and talked about travel writing. Since then, I’ve been working with the girls to set up an internship-like situation where I’ll be traveling AND blogging for Lost Girls. Perfecto. Problem solved-whew! So, thanks to advice from Jen, Holly and Amanda, on May 27 I’ll board a Florence-bound plane and will officially be a Lost Girl myself! Stay tuned…

The Lost Girls are thrilled to welcome Patty to the site, and kick off the very first LG internship!

When Patty asked us the question about whether to pursue a more traditional role at magazine this summer, or to do a study abroad program, we advised her to follow her heart and take the trip. Our decision was based on a few pieces of info:

1. Patty really wanted to get lost: We could see that she was dying to travel, and just needed someone (the super-sage LGs, in this case!) to tell her that she wouldn’t be ruining her chances to get a job down the road! Remember, if someone tries to tell you that travel will prevent you from working, or will put you “behind” in the real world, don’t listen to em! (see #3 below).

2. Patty is a sophomore: While she hasn’t had a magazine internship yet, Patty still has several semesters in which to send out her resumes and get a killer position at a glossy pub. If she’d been a rising senior, and had no internship experience, we might have advised her to think about applying for positions. Another option? Do your internship abroad. That’s what I (Amanda) did as a college senior–I wrangled my way into an intership in London with Miramax Films, so I could gain experience and see a new corner of the world at the same time.

3. Patty can still get experience abroad: She may not have the distinct pleasure of running copies and getting coffee this particular summer, but Patty will gain other valuable skills-learning a new language, arranging meetings and interviewing locals, researching the culture and writing regular dispatches for a (super-fabulous!) travel website. Remember, even if your trip feels like a vacation, it can definitely be a resume-builder. Interviewers are often impressed with the motivation it takes to travel abroad, and are sure to ask you about it…so be proud of your adventures (and don’t be afraid to take the next one!)

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  • Brooke says:

    This is great! Kudos to you ladies for encouraging a far less traditional internship that will probably have more relevance in the years to come than the whole “get coffee, make copies” internship.

    I’m really inspired now to make my upcoming Europe adventure into something more than just a trip. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    Good Luck Patty!

  • Danielle says:

    Congratulations Patty this will be an amazing experience for you (and I must say, I’m jealous).

    I too had to make some big life decisions lately. I am in my 3rd year of Media, Information, Technoculture at the University of Western Ontario and I’m working on my writing certificate as well. I recently applied for a coveted position as a Communications Specialist with IBM, and I got it! This means I will be taking a year off school (16 months) and will work as a paid Intern at IBM before coming back to school. When I come back fourth year I plan to do my year abroad in the UK or singapore.

    I decided to take what little time I have before I start the job May 7th to travel. I was also going to go to Croatia, but last minute I found a cheap flight to Australia, so I booked it because my best friend is there for school! I really believe travelling is one of the greatest things in life. I hope to one day do as these girls and have my own professional travel blog. For now I have,

    Good luck and enjoy your passion!


  • Postcards and Coasters says:



    You made the right decision! Your memories will last a life time!! Especially since you’ll be blogging about them!! 😉