A Year Abroad Interning in Paris

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Paris is a dreamy city that needs no introduction. We spoke to some year abroad students who spent their time interning in Paris to discover more about the ins and outs of working in the city of love. Emily in Paris, anyone?

Anna

How did you spend your placement in Paris?

I spent my year abroad in Paris and was there for ten months from August (2017) to June (2018). I decided to find two internships as opposed to partaking in the Erasmus+ Study because I wanted to gain experience working and speaking French in an office. My university did not help with finding work, and it was very much up to the individual. I spoke to many previous year abroad students from Paris to find out where they worked, and to understand their experience. Make the most out of asking around, and networks like Facebook and LinkedIn!

Anything you’d recommend?

I would recommend to start trying to look for a job early on, as it can be stressful if you start late (i.e. late September/October) as you need to fulfil a certain amount of weeks. I would also suggest doing a lot of research about companies that may have offices in Paris, and send off as many emails as you can with your CV and experience. In France, it is required that companies have a “stagiaire” (an intern) so I would say that you do have the ability to be discerning if you do the research and give yourself enough time leading up. I loved working because I have graduated with great work experience, and it forced me to speak French on the phone, with my colleagues, in meetings and so on.

What about money?

If you are working, I would highly recommend setting up a bank account as you will be massively taxed if your company has to pay into a UK account. It can be quite overwhelming setting up a bank account, as obviously the language is very finance focused. Ask to see if there is someone English who can help (I ended up setting up a corporate account with HSBC because I didn’t understand and my French was pretty rusty at the beginning) which I then had to keep for the year. I would say that the Societe-Generale is a good French bank to go with, and I would definitely recommend finding a branch of (whatever the bank you choose) near to where you are living so it is easy to access if you need.

Watch out! With any internship, the pay can be very low. If the pay is low, make sure that they offer you other bonuses in your contract, such as a Navigo card, holiday pay etc. In France they also offer "ticket réstos", which is like a food voucher. You can use it in restaurants and supermarkets. You can either have these tickets, which is offered in a monthly pack (Monday-Friday), or instead choose to have that money added to your salary. This isn’t always an option, but it would be worth asking.​

Sarah

How did you spend your placement in Paris?

I was in Paris for 6 months from June until December and I was working at a Music Agency. Being in Paris for the second half of the year was amazing as the summer was so nice but then the run-up to Christmas is also pretty cool!

Anything you’d recommend?

I would 100% recommend working, but only if you can find something that actually interests you and you are prepared to make yourself speak French. My boss was English and the others in the office all spoke English too but I made myself speak French and it helped so much!

Alice

How did you spend your placement in Paris?

“Working in Paris is a great opportunity and looks fab on your CV. I found that I improved my language much more in a working environment than studying. France is also the country of work placements, so there are lots of internship opportunities.

Anything you’d recommend?

Don’t worry too much about what job you have and if your job is relevant to what you want to do in the future. Living in Paris is the dream, however it is very expensive and can also be lonely. I would recommend living here, but it is useful to know a few other people coming here to have some friendly faces as it is harder to meet people.”

Make sure you’re speaking french! If you're planning on working it's best to be absolutely sure your office is completely French speaking. So many companies in Paris are just looking for English interns to do all their English tasks and so you wont get much out of it language wise.

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