Communications student Amelia Mecham shares how an experiential learning opportunity has enhanced her time at BYU.
I discovered the Church Communication internship in Germany when I applied to BYU and declared myself a communications major. I thought, “I’m going to do that internship someday.” Yes, the overachiever in me picked my internship five years in advance to put it on my college application essay. But, that overachiever in me was right, and this summer was the cherry on top of my college experience.
I arrived in Germany wondering, “What can an American, English-speaking intern do in an office that covers all of Europe?” But, my experience had prepared me. For instance, I dove into a search engine optimization (SEO) project because I had freelanced SEO articles before. The Europe Area covers 40 countries and 23 languages, so creating an SEO plan was a massive feat. Plus, different languages have been influenced by different religions; religious words in Italian lean Catholic while religious words in German tend to be more Protestant. Most companies don’t consider how keywords translate, or if this phrase works as well in Greece as it does in Norway or Switzerland. But we did it and I learned to communicate across cultures, not just in our “American style.” This lesson prepared me to enter the workforce because communicators must understand and speak to their audience.
During this internship, I read “The Imagineering Workout” by the Disney Imagineers. My creative muscles were bulging after a dozen Disney activities. The book’s advice to ‘just ask’ prompted my favorite unplanned project. I wanted to take time off for two Young Single Adult conferences. Sweden’s Festindordo — literally “party in the north” — was the first YSA conference and has been running since 1966. The local YSA members also raved about the Tagung conference in Switzerland. I pitched it as a story on the religiosity of millennials in Europe. Not only did my boss allow me to attend both, but she also offered to reimburse my travel! I met and interviewed young adults and leaders across Europe and learned it never hurts to ask.
This once-in-a-lifetime experience expanded classroom learning through crucial cultural understanding, global connections and meaningful projects. My summer abroad inspired me to continue studying international business and prepared me for my future career. Living in another country has also given me the confidence to take on the world after graduation.
The publication of student articles allows the College of Fine Arts and Communications to highlight the experiential learning opportunities and behind-the-scenes experiences of students and faculty and tell stories with a unique voice and point of view. Submit your story at cfac.byu.edu.