Virtual Internships Abroad Starting Out

June 8, 2021
By Sophia Bagg, CAS '23

OWIT - United Kingdom

I first applied to VIA hoping for an international opportunity, knowing that the pandemic had made it extremely difficult to travel and engage fully with the international community. VIA presented the perfect chance for me to engage with an international organization despite the circumstances at large. Majoring in International Relations, it was only natural for me to seek out something in the global field for me to do this summer. As a rising junior, I was really searching for a genuine work experience that could supplement the theory-heavy studies I was doing in class.

I am now working as an intern for the Organization of Women in International Trade, United Kingdom (OWIT UK) Chapter, which brings me a lot of excitement as it is a group founded with the idea of promoting women’s successes in international business. I look up to my supervisor and board members as role models for a potential future career path in international business and know that the organization is designed to lift up women and encourage them to break the glass ceiling so commonly found in the realms of trade, finance, and business. As it stands, I don’t really know exactly what I’d like to do once I finish my undergraduate degree, but I am hoping to continue to work with international organizations focused on empowering minorities and those generally underrepresented in international relations fields. This is not limited to women’s organizations, but to causes supporting racial and sexual orientation equity and global distributive justice. These are causes that are both important to me from my life experiences and also from my studies at Penn, which have honed in on these topics as pervasive aspects of the international world. VIA has given me the chance to work with a group of women championing a cause I truly believe in.

What I’m working on currently is assisting OWIT UK with their launch event at the end of June. They have just chartered the UK chapter of the global organization, and are beginning to delve deep into aiding women across the UK in international trade networking and connections. It’s been lovely to work with all of them, and I find that I am feeling truly passionate about the organization as a whole. It’s also exceedingly refreshing to see a group of powerful women acting as the leaders for this group, a sight not commonly seen in the world of international trade. As one of the youngest team members, I am relied upon to help with social media promotions and the setting up of the Zoom webinar, things I can bring with me from my involvement in clubs on campus. I’m excited to see where next I go.

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The Virtual Internships Abroad (VIA) program provides self-directed and motivated Penn undergraduate students the opportunity to gain a fully funded professional work experience over the summer with a global employer, with the added convenience of working remotely.