Nothing really quite prepares you to meet British royalty.
Imagine her surprise when Prince Charles approached Louise Andersson, ’15, and her internship manager during a reception with CEOs, dignitaries, and leaders from around the world (including the president of the Republic of Mauritius).
“It was a pleasant surprise talking to him, and I observed a couple of his conversations with students,” Andersson says. “He was very personable and asked follow-up questions to show he was genuinely engaged.”
Andersson was one of three staff members from Common Purpose at a reception that was part of a leadership course she developed for students in the United Kingdom. Her journey there started with a leap of faith.
“I didn’t know what Common Purpose was before,” she says. “I had never heard of them, so it was slightly scary to go over there and just jump into everything.”
Andersson found her internship through Career Journey International (CJI), which specializes in matching people with opportunities abroad. She Skyped with CJI staff, who asked about her interests, availability, majors, and future plans. What they came back with was a near-perfect fit.
“This position was made for my majors,” Andersson says. “I got to help people come outside of their comfort zones and work outside of the typical things they usually do to solve problems that affect everyone no matter where they live.”
Based in the U.K., Common Purpose plans, organizes, and administers leadership programs for students and professionals around the world. Andersson’s internship was through the Jepson School of Leadership Studies internship program and made possible through a UR Summer Fellowship.
“Without the fellowship, I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to survive the summer,” Andersson says. “London is pretty pricey.”
The organization she interned with creates a challenge for each leadership program to pull people out of their areas of expertise and get them into an environment where they’re forced to think outside the box. For Andersson’s youth program, the challenge asked how the youth of the commonwealth can help create a more low-carbon economy.
Though based in London, Andersson’s biggest project included an eight-day youth leadership program in Scotland that was held in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games, the U.K.’s equivalent of a national Olympics. The program was one of the largest that Common Purpose has ever done. The group met with many different government ministers in both Edinburgh and Glasgow and was an interesting time, Andersson says, to be in Scotland as they heard from leaders about the Scottish independence question recently put to a vote.
Andersson’s work organizing the conference, she says, gave her the hands-on, full-time professional experience she wanted before graduating. It also helped clarify her career goals. She enjoyed being able to do a mix of tasks — from being in the field with the program to managing projects in the office.
“What Common Purpose does is very much what I’m interested in,” Andersson says. “And this is the kind of position that could really accelerate me in my early career.”
And it did. Andersson plans to stay with Common Purpose, who offered her a job at the end of her fellowship.