|Jenny Ba, France
Business and Management
How did you find your internship/trainee program?
I found my traineeship through my past work connections. I used to work for one of InterExchange’s cooperators in Paris and had expressed the wish to work with them by participating in the J-1 Visa Sponsorship program in the future. When I left the company in Paris, I remained in contact with the InterExchange Career Training Program Manager. As soon as I was ready to come to the USA, I got in touch with her and she offered me the traineeship.
What were the professional goals you wanted to achieve through this program?
Though I was working with InterExchange on a daily basis back in France, there were many aspects of the program that were still a little fuzzy to me. By doing this training program, I hope to gain a comprehensive understanding of both the J-1 Visa sponsorship process and the Career Training USA Placement Program.
In addition to the professional experience, what have you enjoyed most about working with your employer?
- I have always wanted to work and live in NYC. The city is amazing and I can never get tired of it. Our office is located in Manhattan, in a vibrant area full of diverse places to eat, drink and shop. It has many options for a perfect lunch break or after work drinks.
- I have realized that InterExchange is very participant-oriented. They do care about their participants: the ‘customer service’ is impressive. InterExchange develops projects to help participants have the best experience possible and every regulation is primary set up in/for the interest of the participants. It is rewarding to work in a company that has such a good ethic and focuses so much on their participants even if it requires time, work and money.
Describe the cultural exchange aspects of the program:
I have noticed a lot of cultural differences although I have been in NY for 5 weeks only.
On a professional level, people seem to work longer hours than in France and do not take much vacation. Back home we would not trade our 35 hours/week and 5 weeks of vacation a year for anything; it is hard to believe that some people spend so much time at work.
I am always amazed to hear so many different languages in NYC’s streets and to see so many people from different backgrounds! The other striking thing to me is the food: there is food at any time of the day and night and it is very hard to resist.
I like discovering new cultures and I also like to share mine. Wherever I travel I always feel the urge to ‘spread the word’: French people are not that pretentious/arrogant, we do not eat croissants every day, we are not always late and, we do not walk down the streets wearing a beret. I try my best to show people that we are friendly and may seem arrogant only because most French cannot speak English. They can find it irritating when people come to them and do not make the effort to speak French but they truly appreciate it if you try to speak even a few words in French.
Share examples of exchanging business practices from home country with U.S. colleagues & employer.
Companies in the U.S. are more organized; employees are more computer literate and, most workers are more than just colleagues since companies organize events outside of work. I intend to share this aspect upon returning to France.
What are three of the most memorable things you’ve experienced during this program?
- Walking through Times Square on a Saturday night was an experience! It was ridiculously crowded and I think most people were thinking the same ‘I have seen Times Square so many times in the movies and now I am right here, living it!’ It was also funny to notice that there was not a single local around us.
- A typical American barbecue in Prospect Park (Brooklyn) organized by some colleagues of mine. Having a barbecue in a park on a sunny Saturday afternoon is such an American thing to me. I enjoyed watching all these people from different backgrounds cooking tons of food and playing sports and I loved listening to the different music while breathing in the smoky smells surrounding us. The atmosphere was relaxed and I appreciated seeing my colleagues outside work.
- Earthquake and Hurricane Irene within the same week! I did not feel the earthquake but people talked about it all day long. The Hurricane was pretty scary; we did not know what to expect and I honestly do not know how I would have reacted if things had gone poorly in New York.
What would you tell a friend from your own country to encourage him/her to do an internship through InterExchange?
I would tell my friend that on top of providing the J-1 Visa sponsorship InterExchange offers their participants many other services and continuous support/help –from the very beginning to the end of the program. They provide tips on their website to help you find your own internship and also have positions available throughout the year. They have a community where participants can find helpful information for adjusting to the U.S., for travelling around the U.S., etc. Participants can also share their experience or get in touch with other interns/trainees through the community. InterExchange organizes social events (mainly in New York City) in order for participants to meet each other, photo contests and, their staff is always available to the participants.
I do have a few friends from Europe who are currently training in the U.S. and from what I have heard; their sponsor does not provide any ‘after-sponsorship’ services. They were amazed to hear about the photo contest (and the reward), the Happy Hour event, etc. I also forwarded them the information about Boston since we have decided to go on a getaway weekend together.