Your Calling is Calling

  • 2024-02-27

It's usually not quite that simple, but it is a gratifying surprise to watch an IFE student discover that the work they and their host organization are doing embodies the career they had been imagining for themselves. A couple of examples will tell the story.

Genevieve came to IFE from Cal Berkeley where she had been studying Environmental Science, thinking about graduate school in architecture and imagining real world exposure to architecture and especially building renovation and environmental impacts. Through IFE Paris Genevieve plunged into the aspired-for but unfamiliar work of an architect, with a local architectural firm specialist in eco-restoration of half-timbered structures. The learning curve began with the acquisition of a good deal of technical vocabulary, continued through documentary research for upcoming projects, model-building (both physical and virtual) to fledgling status as an architect's assistant. The high point, literally, was a visit to an ongoing project to replace the roof of a building on the Avenue de l'Opéra, a highly technical, hard-hat worksite with a roof-top view of Haussman's Paris such as few experience.

IFE student during her internship at an Anti-discrimination NGO


With a strong proficiency in Spanish and interests in literature and publishing, Will came to IFE Asturias dreaming of the possibility of writing in Spanish. Well, dreams can come true, and Will spent his semester assisting the director of Gijon's biggest bookstore and cultural center, including writing book reviews published online by the bookstore, generating social media content, and participating in book discussions, authors' presentations, and the like. In addition, Will found time to work as a stringer for La Nueva España, the major Asturian daily, covering concerts and other cultural events and features for publication in one of Spain's main newspapers.

Julia applied to IFE as a twin major in Public Health and Data Analytics, with aspirations for a career in biostatistics or epidemiology, and hoping an IFE semester could provide a chance to work on “real-world research projects” as exposure to this sort of career. It did. Placed as an assistant researcher with The Laboratory for Nutritional Epidemiology Research, an international lab of INSERM (France's NIH). Julia was handed the task of exploring the link if any between highly-processed foods and insomnia. As for Genevieve, the learning was steep at first, but Julia – with the encouragements of her very supportive new colleagues – went on to master new tools, a large bibliography, professional research protocols, culminating in her paper on “The Cross-sectional Association between the Consumption of Ultra-Processed Foods and Insomnia in the NutriNet-Santé Cohort”. The latter was incorporated into the Laboratory's documentation, and a data-driven epidemiology researcher is born.