Paris as Classroom

Internship Spotlight: Basia-Marie Diagne

“My Relationship with the Team Remains Strong”

Basia-Marie Diagne is a recent graduate from the history, law and society major. Her eight-month internship with Little Africa, a Paris-based tourism and publishing agency that promotes African cultures in Paris, taught her to appreciate how versatile a skill set she had. 

 

What drew you to an internship at Little Africa? 

I saw a post on social media from an AUP alumna who had interned with the company. I thought a tourism and marketing agency focused on Afrocentric businesses in Paris was quite different. As a history, law and society major, I hadn’t studied marketing or communications, but after speaking to the founder I signed up for a two-month internship. It went so well we extended it by another six months. From day one I was expected to have creative input and be a member of the team – it was very conducive to learning. 

 

How does Little Africa work? 

It’s a cultural tourism and publishing agency that connects individuals, associations and businesses with African culture in Paris. Its activities include guided tours of the city’s African neighborhoods, with the aim of exposing tourists to the often-hidden side of Parisian afro-communities. It also publishes a Paris city guide, detailing African-owned and African-inspired boutiques, restaurants and museums, while also producing content for the website pertaining to the diaspora, covering arts and culture, identity and other subjects.

I didn’t expect that my academic background in development would translate so well to Little Africa’s work in culture and business, but the fields very much converge.

What kind of daily responsibilities did you have? 

It varied. At the beginning, we were kicking off the crowdfunding season, which meant I mostly focused on community management, reaching out to the network to drum up support for community-oriented projects. Later, I did more project management. I oversaw one project called “Life in the Diaspora.” I interviewed prominent creatives and entrepreneurs – mostly Black Africans – about how, in their experience, Blackness translates in Europe. The aim was to explore the role African diasporas play in giving voice to Black people’s narratives across the continent. 

 

What did working in Paris add to your experience? 

It allowed me to gain valuable experience of working with a French company. The team at Little Africa is international and bilingual, so I spoke French daily. I learned how important it is to have a strong social foundation for one's work life in France. French culture highly values a positive working relationship among colleagues. Working for a Paris-based cultural agency, particularly one focused on African history and culture, also meant engaging with the social and cultural implications of race, nationality and ethnicity. It challenged me while allowing me to explore my academic and professional interests. 

What were your main takeaways from the internship? 

I worked with a strong, small team, meaning I actively participated in the day-to-day flow of the business, which exposed me to the entrepreneurial lifestyle and spirit. My relationship with the team remains strong. The experience also reconfirmed my deep commitment to the African continent. I didn’t expect that my academic background in development would translate so well to Little Africa’s work in culture and business, but the fields very much converge. I now have a job in digital communications for a US-based wellness company. It took exploring other experiences at Little Africa to realize how versatile my skill set is. It opened a lot of pathways.