Interview of an American Intern at Discover France

Hank, an American student, came for an internship at Discover France from May to August 2018. Interview.

  • Hi Hank, can you present yourself?
  • So my name is Hank Duncan, I am American, I am from Indiana, in a little town called Floyds Knobs, which is right by Louisville, Kentucky. I’m a student at Indiana University studying Economic Consulting and Germanic Studies, and right now I am in France for the summer working for Discover France.
  • How did you get this internship at Discover France?
  • Well, last year I worked in Germany, and I loved the international experience, so after I came home, I decided “Ok, I want to go back to Europe and I want to learn a different language.” I looked at what I really like to do: bikes, traveling, languages, history… and I just sent out some emails to different bike companies around France and Europe and eventually Discover France responded to me. I had an interview with the boss, he liked me, and that was that: I got the job!
  • What are you doing at Discover France?
  • I’m working mainly in logistics, confirming the different luggages transfers and things like that for clients, but also doing a bit of competitor analysis to know where Discover France sits in the industry, how we can improve on what other companies do better that we do, and what really sets us apart. Also I’ve been creating some new trips for us the last few weeks in regions that we don’t have many trips or trips that we can improve on.

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  • What do you like about the company?
  • I absolutely love the work culture! Everybody is super nice, even the first day I got there and I didn’t speak any french, they were super nice trying to talk to me even though it was very difficult. They are all nice, there is a great work culture and a couple of times a week, we all go on group bikes ride together in the middle of the day just to break up the monotony of the day! Everybody is just so friendly, chill…
  • Is there a difference between French and American companies?
  • I don’t really know about companies in general, but here, compared to the American companies I’ve worked in, it’s a lot more casual and chill whereas in most American companies business wise, you have to work in a suit; it’s very professional. But here it’s very casual. I’m not saying it’s not professional because we do work our best, but it’s a much more casual and comfortable atmosphere, and I really like that about Discover France.
  • Would you recommend doing an internship in France?
  • Of course I would! Before you go, you get super nervous because you don’t know anybody, you don’t know the language but after a couple of weeks, you have new friends, you can communicate and it gets so much better each day and each week that you live here because you get even more friends, you get better at the language, and you can talk more. I’ve experienced so much this summer. it’s been really a dream!

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  • What was your first emotion when you know you were accepted in France?
  • When I sent the email to Discover France, I think it was around January, and at that point, I had already apply to a bunch of different companies, and I was getting a little down about my luck and nobody was really responding. Then finally in late January I get this response saying “Hey! We would like to interview you” and I thinking “Awesome! Somebody responded!”. And then, once I interviewed Seb, my boss, and he offered me the job, I interviewed him around 7:00am due to the time differences, and afterwards everybody else was sleeping, but I was so excited and I called my parents. “Guys! Guys! I’m going to France this summer!” That was such a good moment!
  • Have you experienced some events in France?
  • Of course, it’s the summer in France! The first weekend I was here there was this little spanish festival in Nîmes. That was really cool, I met a co-worker there and that was really my first weekend out experiencing France. And then, in June and July, there are just festivals all over the place, and the first day of Summer, there is a festival in every village in France, no matter how big or small, called La Fête de la Musique and that is just so cool! I just biked from village to village around the area and saw all the different concerts and stuff! But I think the best experience was the weekend of July 13th to the 15th where Friday it was the 13th and there was La Fête de Lunel. It was a kind of city village festival with bulls running through the town! Saturday it was July 14th, Bastille Day, and one of my bosses invited me down to the city with him and his friends, and we partied and celebrated, and it was such a cool time! And then Sunday was the World Cup Final! I went down with the same group of people and of course France won- it was amazing! We just danced and partied all day, and I just had a great time!

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  • What’s your favorite part of France?
  • That’s tough because… I love the food. It’s so great: the cheese, the wine, the bread! But I will have to say: the scenery around me because, especially where I am, you have the beaches just a few miles South, you have mountains just a few miles North, you have some cities if you want to go to them, you have really everything! France is such a beautiful country. I mean, I spent five days in the Alps with a Discover France trip during the Tour de France, so I got to see the Tour and experience the Alps and roads to the Alps and… Oh my gosh it is absolutely beautiful. It’s such a beautiful country!

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  • Can you tell me your worst memory in France?
  • I don’t really have any single worst memory. I think it was just maybe the first or second week I was here when I didn’t really know anybody. I was living alone, I couldn’t really communicate with anybody, so it’s tough! Don’t get me wrong, it was tough! But it really gets better! There are a lot of things that happen when I went on a bike trip for a weekend, but a spoke broke, so I had to hitchhike back home. I don’t want to call it a bad memory because it was an adventure and it worked out, and I met an incredible couple because of it! So any bad thing that happened, I don’t want to call it a bad memory because it’s memorable. It’s an adventure and it’s a part of this awesome summer!
  • And what’s your best memory?
  • My best memory… that’s tough! Every weekend I’m here I think “Oh this is the best weekend I’ve ever had” and the next week-end “Oh this is the best weekend I’ve ever had!” But I think the best weekend was that Bastille Day/World Cup Final weekend that was just celebrating France, celebrating everybody, and just having fun with friends. Honestly, I really had fun. I think it was maybe after the first few weeks I was here, a few co-workers and I, we went to Montpellier and just kind of made a evening out there. We went out for the weekend, and that was really my first week-end out with friends in the city in France. It was just cool that “Hey, I have some friends now and we are having fun just exploring France around!” I mean I bike around alone all the time it’s great. It’s really tranquil, it’s relaxing, and you get to explore different roads, but I think the best part about being in a new place is meeting new friends! That’s the part I will never forget.
  • Thank you very much Hank.

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Author Valentina Perego

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