CAS '21 Mercedes Owens

SA: Queen Mary
PGS: Travel to South Africa
GRIP: Intern in Australia

Programs Abroad:

  • Semester Abroad (SA): Queen Mary, University of London

  • Penn Global Seminars (PGS): Seeing, Hearing, and Encountering South Africa

  • Global Research & Internship Program (GRIP): RedBeard Talent Intern in Sydney, Australia

Ask me about...

  • Going abroad for the first time

  • Managing being first-generation, low-income (FGLI) while abroad

  • Interning at a startup

  • Making your role within a small company impactful

  • Being in a cohort placement

My Experience Abroad:

The time I spent in South Africa opened my mind and changed the way that I think. While the course did not directly relate to my major, it was an important journey of self-discovery and a lesson in deep reflection. The people we spoke to often lived through very difficult and traumatic experiences; they helped curate the museums for which they work. These people made an emotionally powerful museum even more so by offering personal anecdotes from their lives. Throughout the trip, I appreciated the theme of art and transformation. Being able to see the authentic side of South Africa instead of being a tourist truly made a difference in my experience. 

As a Junior in the College, I am lucky to have a good idea of how I would like to apply my area of study to my future career. I am studying Economics and Consumer Psychology, and I would like to go into consumer behavior and insights. The knowledge gained from courses in economics helped me understand the more analytical aspects of the internship like calculating various statistics to present in client meetings, while my courses in marketing helped me understand key terminologies like MVP, user testing, A/B testing, market research, and customer-centricity. 

In my future career, I want to help companies understand how their customer base thinks and how best they can serve them. On the consumer side, I want to understand why consumers choose the items they choose: expensive items over cheap ones, various sized and shaped bottles over others, and how much color and shelf placement matters. I was able to understand what I prefer from a future career, meaning I prefer a large, well-established company over a startup for now. This internship was not directly in my area of passion, but it is a small enough company that I was able to directly interact with consumers and find out what they wanted from each of the projects I created. I would present the insights I would gather from the market research, which helped me to feel fulfilled in the area of informing a company of how to best serve their customers. I felt like many of the in-class concepts I have been studying for the past two years were applicable to this experience.

Other Highlights:

  • Seeing koalas and petting kangaroos (Australia)

  • Hiking in the Blue Mountains (Australia)

  • Going to startup pitch nights and networking events (Australia)

  • Visiting the Opera House (Australia)

  • Cooking with a native Bo-Kaap resident (South Africa)

  • Traveling up Table Mountain (South Africa)

  • Visiting the Apartheid Museum (South Africa)

  • The food (both!)

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