CGIS Advisors regularly meet with returning CGIS alumni to ensure our programs align with student needs and to gain insight into the student experience abroad. If you are curious about what it’s like to be a student on the Dublin Internship Summer program, then you’re in the right place! Continue reading for insight to Ellie Richard's experience abroad.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Ellie Richards: My name is Ellie Richard. My pronouns are she, her, hers. I'm double majoring in International Studies and Spanish. And the program I went on was the Dublin Internship Summer program.


Callie Rouse (CGIS Advisor): Why did you decide to go on this particular program?

ER: Well, I remember thinking about what I wanted to do after my freshman year. I was so excited by the freedom that college gave me. I kind of just wanted to continue exploring and just seeing. I had a GSI who said when he was an undergraduate at Michigan he went on a program, I think in London, through CGIS and he loved it. He spoke very highly of it and I thought like oh, I didn't even know that that was like a possibility. And so I started doing some research into the programs. CGIS has so many good options and I saw the Dublin internship one and I was like that just sounds perfect, like spending a summer in Ireland and working at the same time was really cool. And then I applied and was super fortunate to get in and it was definitely one of the better decisions I made in the past couple of years.


CR: Can you talk about the unique program structure? How does it function? How does the classes versus the internship work and things like that?

ER: The main focus of the program is the internship that you're working in. That's the central focus as the title might imply, but you're also taking a class at the same time. So they are divided between taking either an entrepreneurship class or a modern Irish literature class. Then there's a required internship class. The way it is structured is you get to Ireland and the first weekend is just kind of exploring the city and welcome dinners and things of that nature. You don't actually start your internship for a couple of weeks. But in the two weeks that you're there that you're not working with your internship, you're usually doing the classes so that's where the bulk of your classes for the literature class or entrepreneurship, that's where the bulk of that learning comes in. Then the internship class, you don't start till a couple weeks after you join the program and then you carry that through until the end. So it's kind of a lot going on, a lot of moving pieces, but it's not super complicated when you get there.


CR: Is the internship class at the same time as the internship?

ER: Yes, for me it was Tuesday at like 6 or something so usually people would either come from work or my schedule allowed for me to go back to the apartment and relax for a little bit. And then you usually just go for like a couple hours and, you know, participate, do your thing.


CR: Can you describe what your internship was like? What did you do in your internship? How many hours did you do at the internship per week?

ER: Yeah, of course. I adored my internship experience. So that was definitely the highlight for me. I interned as a health care coordinator at the Daughters of Charity, which is a nonprofit organization located in the downtown Dublin area. The people there I couldn't say enough good things about; the sweetest, kind, and most generous people you'll ever meet. I was in the senior citizen center of the organization. So day-to-day was basically spending time with the seniors that came in so I was helping provide more meals. From playing games with them, building fellowship, that kind of thing. 

Some days I would go on the van to deliver hot meals across the Dublin area so that's via the Meals on Wheels program, which is something that we have in the United States. That was really fun, like super cool getting to meet some people around the city and just like, you know, building relationships that way. So my job was very person centered. I was super fortunate. I got to work with another girl on the program that came on the program with me. Her name is Molly. She's also awesome. Raving reviews from me. She's great. So that was fun for me. So if you're lucky, maybe you get placed with someone you know. But most people ended up working by themselves.

My hours were really flexible. I think I'd get in at 9 and then I think I got to leave around 2:30. And then you have lunch in between. I usually brought my own lunch or sometimes they would provide it for me, but I know other people that had more of a standard 10 to 5, it kind of depends on what the people were doing, the law internships and the finance and all that tended to have more standard business hours. But of course mine was like a nonprofit that was sort of based around the senior schedule. So our hours were a little bit easier, which is also nice because it gave me more time to explore.


CR: Were your classes Monday through Friday?

ER: We mostly had Monday through Friday, but we had several Fridays off. We ended up being a lot like Monday through Thursday. But we went in a lot of times on Friday as well.


CR: Can you talk about the selection process?

ER: When you find out that you got into the program that's sort of the next step that you're now trying to figure out: Where you're going to be placed and what internship you're gonna work in. So you kind of fill out this questionnaire application sort of thing. So you're basically guaranteed you're gonna get an internship, but you just don't know if you're gonna get like your top pick or not. I think most people ended up getting around what they were sort of intending. I know I was, I was sort of heading into it wanting some kind of policy related [organization]. And then you're working with a third party institution in Ireland that works to delegate and give out internships to people that are looking for them, you get an advisor sort of situation and they give you advice. Just about like, oh, this is what we think might be the best for you. He was really helpful, very kind. And he was like, based on your interests, I think that the nonprofit area would be a really good start.

For my job, I had to get a security clearance. So that's something to know. Some of these jobs might require that and once they ask for that you want to do that as quick as possible. I think most people ended up with their top one or two picks.


CR: When did you learn what you were actually going to get?

ER: Not till pretty close to the program start date. And that makes sense because you're not actually starting it till mid June anyway, so it's not like you're getting there and you're gonna find out the day of your job or anything like that. I had an interview because you also have to interview for the job. But at that point, it's more of a formality. It's sort of like they're expecting to have you and they're just making sure you're the right fit. Which is sort of the beauty of the program: You kind of get away from all that like competitive selection process stuff. I think I did my interview a couple of days before I left. And then I didn't find out if I was officially placed there until I was in Ireland.


CR: Was the academic experience similar in structure to how it is at U-M or is it quite different?

ER: I think they felt kind of different. I think part of that's just because I've never taken a summer course before, so I wasn't totally used to that setup. And it's pretty compact because you're doing most of the classes really early on and only in a couple of weeks. I took the Irish literature class and then the internship class and I think we had a couple of papers, some assignments here and there, [and] reading to do every night. I think at least for me, I was a little checked out with school at that point. And I was so focused on the internship aspect of the program. So recommendation: Don't fall into that pitfall. Know going in that you're gonna still be doing school. That would be helpful to mentally prepare for that.

The internship class is probably the one that's a little more eclectic. You’re kind of talking about what is good to do in the workplace, specifically catering to Ireland rather than the US. Especially at the beginning, that's sort of helpful to know, what are they expecting for me when I get into the workplace here? Because the work culture is actually pretty different in Ireland than it is in the United States, which is something I didn't really think about, but definitely found that out, learned that firsthand.


CR: What surprised you or what was the experience like integrating into an Irish work culture?

ER: My mom's side of the family is Irish Catholic so I was a little familiar going into the situation what that kind of humor is like because it's very sarcastic dry humor, which is my type of humor. People more casually are willing to start a conversation, get to know a stranger, which is definitely kind of fun, especially in the internship. I didn’t know anybody. It was nice that people were just so willing to talk to me and make me not feel like an outsider. But I found that it was really easy to interact with people there. And especially in Dublin, the accents are really not very thick. They're easy to understand. You go outside of Dublin especially, into the Dingle Peninsula areas it gets much thicker, a little bit harder to understand, but I mean nothing that you can't figure out.


Elijah Rodriguez (CGIS Advisor): What is the best advice you could give in a sentence or two?

ER: The best advice is to try the Irish breakfast. I was a big, big fan. And I feel like that sort of encompasses the idea of just, try the Irish culture, like be part of it. It's really special. It's fun to be part of. 


CR: What was the housing like?

ER: We stayed at the Binary Hub. The way it's set up is that you get an apartment but you go into the apartment and it's just a row of doors so everyone has their own room. You have a collective shared kitchen. So like the apartment is the collection of all the rooms and the kitchen, if that makes sense. It's really nice because you get your own bathroom, you get your own room. I thought it was a perfect setup for the time I spent there.


CR: What are you most proud of from your experience?

ER: I definitely think there's so many things. It's such a big growing experience, but I guess one thing was just I feel like I had so much personal growth. You know, being able to live by myself, cooking for myself, and navigating a whole city learning the transit and where the grocery store is and how to get around and what time do I get up for work and school. I went to a concert by myself, I went to Belfast by myself, went to the Titanic Museum; I'm a big Titanic person. 

It was really cool to have that kind of independence and just learn how I like to live by myself. I feel like that's a big part of study abroad in general or just travel, is learning what you like and how you operate in the world. I also think a meaningful part from the trip was just like the relationships I built. I've obviously talked a lot about the people at the internship, but also just the people on my program, I'm still in really good contact with [them]. One of the girls is actually in my Spanish class, so we've definitely kept up.


CR: Dublin can be a little bit on the pricier side. Can you talk about budgeting on the program?

ER: Dublin is on the pricier side. It's sort of like London. I think a lot of cities in Europe are going to be a little on the pricey side. So I was kind of expecting that, but honestly, I actually found that I spent less on groceries. If you go to a local grocery store, that's a little cheaper. There's like one that's literally right near the Binary Hub, like a 5 min walk and it's pretty, I didn't find it to be that expensive [Lidl Market]. But the food goes bad quicker because there's less preservatives, so you end up buying more. I found a lot of my [expenses] came from eating out. So that's a very easy way to save money is just not to go out. The drinks are really expensive so what we did a lot of times is we'd buy drinks elsewhere like from the store and have drinks before we go out and then just kind of go for a vibe rather than drinking anything because drinks would get really pricey. And then like events like I went to a lot of concerts, and stuff like that. Because that was important to me, but another thing that you just don't have to spend money on. So I think a lot of it is just being kind of judicious with where you want your money to go and what you want to prioritize. And if you're trying to ball in a budget, like that's all good. There's a way to do it. You just have to be kind of conscious of what you're spending your money on and where you're allocating it.


CR: Can you talk about getting around the city and about commuting and navigating the city?

ER: It’s a pretty walkable city in general. You can get most places that you need to go [by walking]. I did figure out the power of public transportation through my trip and that saved me a lot of time. So, you know, hopefully who's ever listening to this, save yourself the time. There's really good public transit in Dublin, not only within the city but like outside to other cities as well. You have a leap card that you put money in. Don't put that much money on [the card]. Put like $20. 


CR: What is something, like a particular story or an experience, that you took away from your experience on the program?

ER: There's so many. Am I allowed to share two?

CR: Yes.

ER: One of them was on the very last day that I was working. I remember I was really sad because you know you build all these relationships with the people there and you've gotten so used to day in, day out seeing them and getting to know them. I knew that they were probably gonna do a little something to say goodbye, but I remember we'd serve them lunch, what we called dinner at the time, but we serve them lunch. Not only did they make a special meal for me, especially [because I have] a bunch of allergies, but they made me a cake. Everyone sang and they gave me gifts and I just wanted to cry because it was just the sweetest thing. I was so blown away by the hugs they're giving me I could just tell that they really cared that I was there. I just felt very part of the community. So that definitely sticks out.

[Secondly,] I didn't go on the program with anybody I knew. So it was kind of a big independence-growth moment kind of thing. And I decided I wanted to go to a concert, but no one else wanted to go with me and so I decided to go by myself because it was just like a day trip. I knew I could go up and back in a day. It was at the Malahide Castle, which I highly recommend, it’s beautiful. And I remember trying to figure out like the train system, how to get down there and then talking with random Irish people when you're there. It was hailing for part of it, people were under food trucks that were there, I was by myself, but I felt very safe and it was just like a really memorable experience because it's like a big growth independence moment.


Have questions for Ellie about her experiences on the Summer Dublin Internship Program? Contact her at