Career Moves: SPDC helps sophomore find French embassy internship

Maggie Liston '16 has known since high school that she wanted to incorporate the French language into her career plans, and with guidance from Student Professional Development Center staff, she found an internship this summer in New York City with the French Embassy.

Maggie Liston '16: "My experiences this summer have taught me that you truly get out of an internship what you put into it."
Elon University sophomore Maggie Liston traveled to Europe for two weeks as a high school student, and the experience convinced her that the French language and culture would need to be important components of her future career.

Shortly after starting her college studies at Elon, Liston visited the Student Professional Development Center for help in finding an internship. Her interests? Anything using French, of course. And her initiative paid off in big ways.

The French and international studies double major originally from Bridgewater, N.J., interned this past summer for the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York City, where she managed content on the embassy’s website, created brochures and “got to speak French every day.”

Liston is the latest person to be featured this year in a series of E-net profiles on the successes of students and alumni who use the Student Professional Development Center to find job and internship openings, and to prepare for interviews and improve applications with guidance from staff.

She answered questions recently from the SPDC about her experience.

Tell me about the company and your role as an intern.

Cultural Services of the French embassy is a sector of France’s diplomatic presence throughout the world that focuses on promoting French language, media, music, literature, film, education and art. I interned at the headquarters in New York City, where I worked for the education office.

As an intern, I was responsible for managing the content of the embassy’s website, administering the education office’s electronic and written communication including newsletters and e-blasts, creating brochures to promote dual-language programs in city’s public schools and compiling research on bilingualism for embassy publications. I also translated press releases from French to English and helped organize a graduation ceremony at the French Consulate in New York. And, of course, my favorite part was that I got to speak French everyday.

How did your interest in the internship develop?

From the moment I started taking French classes in middle school, I instantly fell in love with the language. When I got to high school, I was able to participate in an exchange program in Lyon where I stayed with a family for two weeks. The experience changed my life. I knew that I wanted to keep French as an integral part of my life and hopefully use it in a future career.

When I was searching for organizations in New York City that used French, I came across the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. In an act of boldness, I decided to call all the offices at the embassy, converse with them, and ask about internship possibilities. To my surprise, three months later I received an email with an internship offer from my current boss. I can truly say that I got my “dream job.”

What did you learn from the experience?

My experiences this summer have taught me that you truly get out of an internship what you put in to it. I started my internship with a driven and focused attitude, and as the summer progressed, I was given more and more responsibilities as I proved myself a responsible and committed worker. The experiences I had this summer doing research, authoring brochures and news articles, and managing web pages are invaluable to my own professional development, and they would not have come about without my own initiative. My French speaking and comprehension skills also significantly improved during my internship, which I am excited to use when I study abroad this spring in Montpellier, France.

Who did you work with in the Student Professional Development Center to prepare for your internship, and what help did you receive?

Debby Wall, the director of internships at Elon, was my go-to person for all my internship questions. She was the one that encouraged me to initially call the embassy, a call that ultimately landed me the job. Debby helped me with my résumé, my cover letters and my overall internship search—allowing me to stay in her office for hours while we typed the words “French” and “internship” into countless search engines. I owe my success in part to her.

How do you plan on using the SPDC in the future?

I plan on continuing to pay visits to all my new contacts at the Student Professional Development Center as I continue to search for internship and job opportunities. I am also part of the C2C (College 2 Career) Program at Elon that gives students a guideline to follow during their four years at Elon (with bonus prizes as you complete each stage)! I think the best part of Elon Career Services is the personal relationships each student can form with staff mentors that can guide them through the job and internship process. My career is only beginning, and I am looking forward to continuing my professional journey at Elon.

What recommendations would you share with other students about the SPDC and Career Services?

I would tell all students that it is never too early to start thinking about your future. Coming in as a freshman, many people told me that I was too young to be thinking about internships, but the staff at Elon supported my bold dreams and helped me to achieve them. Even if you just need help formatting a cover letter or résumé, want to understand how your personality relates to your potential career, or even just figure out what you want to do with your life—the staff at Career Services can help you through it. I myself talked to several different people about all of the above. Elon has fantastic resources—it is up to you to take advantage of them.