Chicago AUT Internz adventure of a lifetime

October 25, 2018


AUT Communications and Law student Sharleen Shergill looks back on her recent international AUT Internz experience with Time Zone One and asks, “Did this really happen?”

Earlier this year, Sharleen got the opportunity of a lifetime to work and live in Chicago as part of the AUT Internz international internships programme working at Time Zone One.

One of her favourite experiences involved going on the road with the video production team to help film a documentary-type series Illinois Made, filming local business who shared their start-up stories.

“I was excited to visit Garrett Popcorn, which is also on Oprah’s list of favourites. To see and film what goes on behind the scenes was amazing”.

Landing one of these prestigious internships was a goal Sharleen had aspired to throughout her years at AUT.

“With every opportunity, internship or work I did, I always kept that goal in mind. I got involved in as much as I could in and out of university. I’ve been part of law clubs, gained leadership and ambassador roles and got to meet and learn from the best people in their fields. I put myself out there to ask for internships - such as doing work for The Urban List. Any opportunity I can take, I will,” Sharleen explains.

This can-do attitude led to a Skype interview with Time Zone One which came after applying for the AUT Internz programme.

“After my application, I didn’t hear anything for ages, then suddenly, it was all happening. There was so much emotional build-up that I didn’t have time to process everything.”

The interview process happened quickly as did the result. The day after the interview Sharleen heard she had the internship and within eight weeks she had landed in Chicago and started her first full-time role.

“I was a content marketer and one of our main clients was Illinois Office of Tourism. My role was to update the Enjoy Illinois website, write blog posts, newsletters, source images, and write captions for social media. I also got to help organise the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism. During this I learnt about all the work put in behind the scenes,” Sharleen says.

Sharleen’s AUT Internz experience was made so much richer because she fell instantly in love with Chicago. “On the first day I went outside, I knew this is where I was meant to be.  It’s my city.”

But moving to the other side of the world to pursue a dream is not always easy. Reflecting on her overseas experience, she recounts her greatest learning experiences.

“When I was still in Auckland, I was living at home, everything was easy.  Then I moved to a whole new country on my own. It was a fresh start because I had to figure everything out by myself. It made me grow up."

She says the first few weeks were really tough because all she did was go to work and come home but then she decided to put herself out there and start meeting people.

"It was a learning experience I wouldn’t have had if I stayed in Auckland. Not to mention the -17 degree weather and random snow until April.”

Help from the Employability Lab

Sharleen explains her AUT Employability and Careers appointments with Employability specialist Shaun Pulman helped her develop a more effective CV and cover letter.

“I got tips on tailoring my CV and cover letter to each company and making sure I highlighted the most relevant accomplishments for each employer.”

“I also found it helpful to do a lot of research on a company. They really value this when you go for an interview. It’s effective to bring up campaigns companies have done and why you like them. It shows you are not just there after any old job."

Lastly, Sharleen’s advice to students applying for Communications and Design roles is to develop a portfolio of work to show employers. “It’s more exciting to show employers what you are capable of."

If you're keen to see how much further you can take yourself - you can make an appointment with one of our Employability and Careers specialists on Employability Lab Online for career advice, CV and LinkedIn checkups or job/interview skills.


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