Barry McNamara  |   Published August 23, 2022

Internship in Ireland

Leber ’23 combines summer work with travel experience in foreign country.

WELL-TRAVELED PENNANT: Abby Leber took her Monmouth College pennant with her on her trip across t... WELL-TRAVELED PENNANT: Abby Leber took her Monmouth College pennant with her on her trip across the Atlantic, and it showed up in a variety of places, including Belfast City Hall (pictured), the Cliffs of Moher and Booterstown Marsh. MONMOUTH, Ill. – Through an internship that doubled as a travel abroad experience in Ireland and Scotland, Monmouth College student Abby Leber ’23 further developed the soft skills that will be instrumental in her future, potentially as the owner of a physical therapy practice.

Her hard skills are already being developed through Monmouth’s biopsychology program, and that development will narrow in focus when she completes her Monmouth education next May and pursues an advanced degree.

“Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have my own physical therapy practice,” said Leber, who lived and worked from June 4-July 16 in Dublin.

Her opportunity came through The Intern Group, one of the leading providers of international internships. Through that organization, she worked with Nexus Edge, a company that prepares students for the workforce by ensuring equal access to quality technical, vocational and entrepreneurship training.

Social media and being social

Leber served as a consumer psychology and marketing intern, which involved “running all their social media on all platforms, and I gathered emails on whom they should contact.” An area of focus she observed during her time with the company was helping to prepare students to ace interviews and write résumés, as well as attempting to help more students be accepted into historically Black colleges and universities.

Leber said the experience gave her ideas for what she’d need to do to better reach potential clients when she has her own practice.

“Physical therapy school will help me with the science side, and this company helped me learn more about the business side,” she said. “We got to learn a lot about the way people do things.”

It also helped her develop soft skills that more employers are seeking in the hiring process, such as emotional intelligence, a team-player attitude, a growth mindset, adaptability and work ethic.

“I was worried about getting along with everybody. But within the first hour, the whole room was talking to each other. The biggest problem went from how I’d fit in to finding tables for when the 12 of us went out together.” Abby Leber

An all-conference pitcher for the Fighting Scots softball team, Leber is already well-versed in many of those qualities. She’s also made advancements in those skills through her involvement with the Pi Beta Phi women’s fraternity, for which she is serving as chapter president this year.

But her time in Ireland showed her that she could go beyond her comfort zone and succeed.

“The first day, I went through a bit of anxiety,” said Leber, who lived in housing on the grounds of University College Dublin. “I was worried about getting along with everybody. But within the first hour, the whole room (which included interns “from all over the world”) was talking to each other. The biggest problem went from how I’d fit in to finding tables for when the 12 of us went out together. I just loved our experience together. It made it all even more enjoyable.”

‘Maturity and professionalism’

Leber, who maintained flexible hours, also learned how to better navigate a workday by enhancing her organizational skills.

“It was not as much about due dates, like it is in college when you have an assignment or a paper,” she said of managing her internship tasks. “I learned more about being able to organize when to best get things done. I learned how to talk to businesses, and I learned how to talk to my bosses. It just helped me reach a new level of maturity and professionalism.”

And as it did, she began picturing how she could apply the lessons later.

“It helped me think of the mindset of people I’ll be working with,” she said. “It also helped me learn how to speak to people.”

“I learned how to talk to businesses, and I learned how to talk to my bosses. It just helped me reach a new level of maturity and professionalism.” Abby Leber

Leber appreciated the opportunity she’d been given, so she vowed to stop and smell the roses – or perhaps “smell the heather” would be a better analogy.

“I worked in a new café every day, and I visited Belfast, Cork and Galway,” said Leber, who also spent a week in Scotland. “I did Irish dancing and saw the Cliffs of Moher. I just got immersed in the culture. My ancestors are from Cork, and this experience really helped me appreciate where I came from.”

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