Name: Kitty Stevens
Type of Project: Summer Internship Abroad in London, England
Provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
For my STEP Signature Project, I studied and interned abroad in London, England for the summer (from June to August) with Arcadia University. As a part of the program, I got to take a Feature and Travel Writing class, as well as work as an Editorial Assistant Intern with Simon and Schuster, an international publishing company.
What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
It’s so difficult to fit everything that I’ve learned into a few paragraphs, but the most important things come to mind so easily. By studying and working in London, I feel like I really stepped into the shoes of the person I want to be. I was truly on my own – with no friends or family within 3,000 miles – for the first time, and it helped me grow into the independent, confident person I’ve become. I find myself much more sure of my decisions, my navigation skills, and my opinions. And thanks to my internship, I finally have an answer to the question: “What do you want to do with your life?”
I’ve also discovered a place full of people with ambitions and worldviews that are surprisingly similar to my own. Through the people I interacted with, I realized that our neighbors across the pond – and even our neighbors only a few states away – have so much to share with us to help us grow. I’ve developed a much larger perspective of the world I live in, and have become a more accepting individual along the way.
What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
My internship with Simon and Schuster was the most important and impactful part of my experience abroad. The circumstances aligned perfectly, and I was given a lot of responsibility in my role at the publishing company, as well as being placed in a department full of the most upbeat, encouraging people. As the Children’s Editorial Assistant Intern at a time when the Editorial Assistant had just moved on to a different job, I got a real feel for what work would be like in a publishing company. My experience in that atmosphere, with those people, gave me confidence in my decision that I want to be a book editor after graduation.
Interacting with Londoners on a weekly basis made me feel like a local myself, in a way you just don’t feel from simply vacationing. I got to live, study, and work as Londoners do, and felt almost more at home in the foreign metropolis than I do in my small home town. I really came into my own this summer, as cliché as that sounds, and discovered that I thrive on the busy, never-ending activity that the streets of London offer. Though it took a few wrong turns and some out-of-the-way Tube rides to figure out how to navigate, by the end of the summer I was confident enough in my own abilities to even give tourists directions!
An ocean away from everything that was familiar, I found myself making a home in London with the people I had the privilege of sharing the experience with. The friends I made from the program itself live all over the United States, and come from such different backgrounds than my own, but we found ourselves coming together through our mutual uncertainty of how to get along in London and growing as travelers, as Londoners, and as individuals. Without the women I befriended this summer, I wouldn’t have been as confident stepping out into uncharted territory. Thanks to our mutual love of travel and our passion to see and experience as much as we could this summer, the four of us took several weekend trips to the beautiful places the United Kingdom had to offer. It was thanks to the traveling (especially to Scotland, which was a three hour train ride) that we were able to learn more about each other. We had such deep, thoughtful, meaningful conversations while we were riding through the countryside, and through self-reflection and discussions, I learned more about who I was and what I wanted out of life.
Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
Thanks to my internship, I can move confidently forward with my final year of school, knowing exactly what I want to do with my life once I have that diploma in my hands. I feel invigorated and motivated to push forward, now that my eyes are set on a career as an editor, and everything I do can be in service of that newfound goal.
I also spent a good deal of time in London self-reflecting, thanks to several late night (and early morning) conversations with the new friends I made on the trip. Because I wasn’t around people that I knew, I discovered who I was without all the expectations and assumptions my long-time friends had about me. I was able to figure out what kind of person I was, who I wanted to be, and discovered that though I tend to be very self-deprecating, I have many characteristics that I actually like about myself.
I’ve struggled with self-confidence and believing in myself for my entire life. Flying to a new continent for a summer all alone was a huge leap of faith, one I almost didn’t have the courage to do. I had to learn how to trust myself in London, because there was no one else there for me to lean on. And even though it started out as one of the most daunting tasks of my life, I broke free from my self-doubt and developed, somehow, into a confident, independent person.