Features - Alum of the Month
New York Program
September 2008 Intake
What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
I have a degree in Combined Social Sciences (specialising in Business Studies, Geography and Sociology) from the University of Durham
What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
I think it was a combination of the sense of adventure and the opportunity to get practical work experience and progress my career without committing myself to a full-time career path like most graduate schemes ask of you. The chance to live in New York (or next to it at least!) was obviously a massive plus too.
Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked for the UK Trade & Investment department within the British Consulate. My main role was setting up from scratch what had been the brainwave of the Regional Director, an alumni initiative to connect UK alumni with the services and networks within the Consulate and generate more business links.
What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
I think it was working at the various events during the year – I met celebrities such as Liam Neeson and Katie Couric, Mark Sanchez from the New York Jets and the Duke of York. As I’m not the most up to date with celebrity culture though must admit I struggled to recognise many of these people and was most impressed by meeting Simon Jones (who played Arthur Dent in the BBC Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy TV Series in the 80s)
What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
Putting to one side a particular day involving a Mexican Leprechaun, a rodeo bull, a pair of handcuffs and a cordless telephone then this was also while working at the Consulate. By far our most popular event was when Prince Harry came over on his first official trip. I was in the main reception trying to keep the journalists out while ushering all the various guests and celebrities in. I probably didn’t get off to the best start when I tried to stop the head of MI6 as he didn’t have the correct invitation printed. A few minutes later a professional underwear model, wearing very little extra than what she would for her day job, turned up without her ticket and had to keep me company in the lobby for the next fifteen minutes until her partner arrived. Another couple of really memorable days were the Barack Obama election night, which had such an amazing atmosphere, and his inauguration day. For years to come I can now bore people about how I was there in DC for a piece of history, granted whilst standing 2 miles back behind a hill, unable to see or clearly hear a thing while fighting the effects of frostbite on the coldest day of the year, but I was still there!
Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship
Being somewhere as great as New York for just a year really makes you appreciate your time and really live life to the full. The main lesson was to throw myself head first into every situation and make the most of every opportunity, even if occasionally being a little reckless about the consequences.
If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
I would have saved a little more money in advance, because New York can be such an expensive city especially in the first few weeks when you don't know all the best cheap places to go out.
What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
I went travelling with various friends I made during my year in New York on a one month mission to see what the rest of America had to offer. We drove down Route 101 from Seattle to San Francisco, flew to Austin, explored some of Texas, before heading on to New Orleans and rounding off the trip in Nashville, Memphis and Atlanta. San Francisco and New Orleans were great, not so much Bandera, self-proclaimed 'Cowboy Capital of Texas', it seemed to consist of one street with 2 bars and in between a gun shop with a very angry looking owner. When a load of locals in a pick-up truck stopped alongside us and started shouting at me and my friend we decided we had probably seen the best of what Bandera had to offer.
Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
I’m currently working as an Alumni Relations Manager at London Business School. My main role is to manage our network of international alumni clubs as they look to promote the School, our brand and our faculty while keeping alumni connected with each other. The alumni relations team forms part of the wider fundraising office, with our goal being to raise £100m for the School as part of our newly launched 5 year campaign. We currently have 80 international clubs (this year I’ve travelled to Hong Kong and Shanghai to run events) and we recently had our global alumni day where we had events running simultaneously in 90 cities across the world, so it generally keeps me busy.
Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
I definitely want to travel more (either through work or by taking a career break eventually). I am trying to learn Spanish as South America is the one continent I’ve never visited so when I do I would love to do it properly and really get under the skin of the culture and experience everything there is to offer.