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‘An internship that pays you not to come to work’


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Published date
13 December 2016

Chloe Abrahams is studying BA Fine Art with a one year Diploma in Professional Studies between Stages 2 and 3. As part of this sandwich year, Chloe was selected to undertake Golin London’s first ‘Unternship’, during which she spent time with communities where social media is scarce in Ecuador, Peru and Montenegro.

We asked her to write about her experiences of life without technology and what she’s learned along the way. 

Global integrated communications agency Golin created a programme called The Unternship, an unconventional work placement that would pay one person to spend the summer travelling and then return to work in the office. When I saw the job posting for ‘an internship that pays you not to come to work’, I thought it was too good to be true. I had always dreamed of a job that would fund my travels, and it appeared that I had just found it.

The Unternship was set up in an attempt to attract bold thinkers from outside the PR and communications world, with the idea that to come up with creative ideas, life experience is more important than work experience. To apply, you had to create a video pitching what you would do in two months of travelling.

My idea was to spend the time detoxing from social media; to get rid of my smartphone and visit remote communities to try and get back down to the roots of human communication. After weeks of going through different stages of the application process I was ecstatic to be accepted. I began to plan my adventure.

I lived with people in the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon Rainforest, deep canyons in Peru and an off-grid community in Montenegro, all the while not being able to Instagram or post on Facebook to show off what I was doing.

The first half of my journey was the most difficult, as it took some time to get used to living in the real world. I began to notice how much time I had on my hands, and I needed to actively calm my brain down when it strangely became overworked by having nothing to do. By the end of my adventure I was nervous to come back to London. I had really enjoyed being tech-free; it had led me to form some incredible friendships, make lasting memories and truly appreciate all the time in each day. Even if I wanted to continue it, it would be impossible in London, where all my plans are usually made on the day and communicated last-minute via social media.

Adjusting back to normal life wasn’t easy, but it went quite smoothly. I deleted all social media apps from my phone, so that I would have to actively go onto them to see what was happening rather than getting push notifications, and I would tend to leave my phone in my bag for the whole day without looking at it, just out of the habit of not having it around.

Working at Golin has been really exciting. I’ve never worked in an office before, and I had no idea about how a communications agency worked, so it has been a great insight into all the different aspects of how it runs. I expressed my interest in filming and editing, and so I’ve been placed in their in-house videography team, learning so many new skills that I will definitely be able to use on my return to CSM as well as in my future career.

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