Luxembourg, with its European institutions, banks and international milieu, is a highly sought-after destination for internships. Delano profiles some of the interns to find out more. The third in our “Meet the interns” series features Juliette Leader, 19, who works in the communications department at Appui au Développement Autonome, an international development NGO.
Audrey Davis: Tell me a little about yourself: where are you from?
Juliette Leader: Like a lot of students in Luxembourg, I’m what you’d call a “third culture kid”: my father is English and my mother is American, but I’ve lived my whole life in Luxembourg! I am currently studying in Washington DC, but I was born in Washington state.
Where and what are you studying?
I just finished my first year at Georgetown University where I’m studying for a bachelor of science of foreign service in science, technology and international affairs, with a minor in international development. Basically, that translates as studying sustainable development and international affairs! Georgetown has a liberal arts-style education, so I’ve also taken classes on everything from early European history to calculus to iconoclasm.
Why did you apply for this position?
Although a lot of my friends from university are staying in Washington DC because it has a lot of opportunities, I wanted to return to Luxembourg because I missed it so much after a year away. I love how beautiful the city is, I love walking near the forests near my house, and I love how Luxembourg is small and safe enough that a young woman can feel comfortable walking anywhere at any time! Also, I knew Luxembourg is very involved in the sector of microfinance which I’ve been interested in for a long time, so it seemed like the perfect place to be, so I sent CVs and cover letters to at least 5 organisations and found that ADA was searching for someone in communications, which is also a field I’m interested in.
What kind of tasks do you do?
I have been helping out a lot with a conference we are organising for October in Addis Ababa, working on getting the website up to speed and writing news and social media posts. I also have been working on getting the database of contacts in order, so that when I draft and send out bi-weekly newsletters, I can better tailor the content to the people I’m contacting. My work includes a lot of teamwork, as I have to coordinate with my co-workers on attending to the speakers for the conference and making sure every page of the website and our server is up to date.
I also do a lot of translating, as I am a native English speaker and most of the office is French-speaking. For example, I translated all the materials relating to the 40th Midi de la microfinance et de la finance inclusive (the website material, email invitations, etc.), a short conference we held at the beginning of July that was attended by four African female entrepreneurs and the grand duchess of Luxembourg!
Are you paid?
I am paid a nominal monthly fee instead of an hourly wage. I was willing to work for free, but they offered a small stipend.
What do you like most about the experience, and what are you learning from it?
I love working in a large team because I’ve never done that in a professional setting before. It does mean we spend a lot of time in meetings which can be exhausting as it’s all in French and my mother-tongue is English, but I always feel so great at the end of a meeting because so many things that confused me have been cleared up and we have a new and improved plan of action.
I’m learning a lot about microfinance through proofreading the website and the annual report, and I’m learning a lot more than I would’ve thought about event planning and the importance of Excel spreadsheets, but I think the most important thing I’m learning is how to take ownership of your work. It’s a bit intimidating being at least six years younger than everyone else in the office and not speaking the lingua franca fluently, but my colleagues have helped me realise that I can still be a valuable part of the team and make important contributions! We are in the process of redesigning parts of the website, and I have so many ideas, and now I feel comfortable enough to share my ideas with the rest of the team, and a lot of them have been adopted.
Would you like to move back to Luxembourg after graduating university?
I’m not sure I want to move back to Luxembourg right after graduating because I still have so much of the world to see and so many places I want to live! Maybe in ten or fifteen years I’ll be ready to come home, especially since Luxembourg has so many great opportunities in the areas I’m interested in, and you can have a very high quality of life here. I loved growing up in Luxembourg because we could travel relatively easily, spend weekends surrounded by beautiful trees, go to amazing museums and plays, and most importantly take the bus everywhere!