Albion swimmer reflects on summer internship in London

An English and communication studies major may seem an unlikely intern for a tech start-up, but Claire Van Raaphorst, ’14, tells a different story. A senior from Rochester, Mich., who preped at Stoney Creek High School, she describes her recent experience below. An action photograph of Van Raaphorst is attached.

This summer, I worked in London, England, for a start-up technology business so new that at the time, they still hadn’t decided on a name. They hired me for my English major, and I worked on writing and editing their investor document and some of their other business documents.

Since it was a start-up company, I had to have my hand in a bit of everything. I did market and company research and helped write a sales pipeline and sales pitch. I had never done this type of writing before, but I found some instruction on the internet and asked my bosses about their previous experience. Using this and a large dose of creativity, I pulled off something that the bosses were enthusiastic about.

Besides learning a lot about business and business writing, I sort of got Computer Programming 101 on the job. When I left for London I always had to call my brother or dad for any hiccup on my phone or computer. At the end of my internship, when I thought I broke a computer program, I could actually work through trying to fix it.

Beyond living in a foreign country, the workplace itself was a new culture for me. The majority of people I worked with were men and most all had backgrounds in computer programming. I felt pretty lost when they’d launch into explanations of Python code or Javascript. Even when they talked about our business plan or pitching to other investors, I had no background in what they were talking about.

On the flip side, I was the resident expert on writing. I made substantial revisions to many important documents, to make them more clear and understandable. The business owners respected all parts of what I did even though I was an intern.

Living in London was crazy, but I caught on fast to reading maps and being on my own. Coming out for dinner with a friend one evening, we walked right into a movie premiere. I scurried through the crowds and got up to where actor Simon Pegg was signing autographs. It was definitely an event I wouldn’t find in my sleepy Michigan hometown!

This experience gave me a great feeling of empowerment that a liberal arts degree in English and communication studies has a very real and powerful application in a real-world business place. So many people ask me what I will do with my majors, and I can now say proudly that I can do anything.

This release was provided courtesy of Albion Swimming and Diving.

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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