Internship Spotlight

Margaret Mixon

Intern at Secret Journeys Paris

Internships are a great opportunity to apply what you learn in the classroom to life in the “real world.” Here, International Business Administration and Global Communications double major Maggie Mixon tells us about her internship at Secret Journeys, an experiential travel startup company.

Tell us a little bit about your background? 

I am from Atlanta, GA originally. After high school, I moved to Washington, D.C. and spent a year and a half at the George Washington University. After my Freshman year in D.C., I spent the summer living in Hungary and Slovakia where I taught English. While teaching, I made the decision to move to Europe full time and I decided that Paris and AUP were the best fit for me. I have now been living in Paris since January 2019. 

Which company/organization are you currently interning with?  

Currently, I am an intern at Secret Journeys Paris, an experiential travel startup. 

Where is your internship taking place? (city/country):  

My internship takes place in Paris. 

What is your job title? :  

I am an International Development Manager 

What types of responsibilities and/or tasks do you have in your internship? What's a typical day for you like?  

Honestly, there is no such thing as a typical day at Secret Journeys and that is something that I have really come to enjoy. On any given day, my responsibilities can range from managing the company from writing or editing copy for our website/social media to meeting with hotel concierges and museum directors, to brainstorming ideas for new travel experiences in Paris. 

What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve experienced during your internship? 

I would say that the biggest challenge in my internship has been jumping head first into a Francophone work environment. Before moving to Paris, I had never spoken French and had no formal or informal experience with the language. Also, my class schedule with two majors only allowed me time to take one French course. So, when I began at Secret Journeys, my knowledge and comprehension was basic at best. Luckily, our business meetings for the first month or two happened to be conducted in English, but after then, they quickly became majority French and I was forced to sink or swim. For a while, this proved to be quite frustrating for me because I desperately wanted to keep up with what was happening and I wanted to seem as though I was pulling my own weight and at the very least, making an effort to learn and improve. Eventually, as I think many people learning a new language would tell you, things began to click and I noticed that my understanding and ability was improving with every meeting.  

As far as successes, I would say that highlight of my time with Secret Journeys has been the relationships that I have been so fortunate to develop. What drew me instantly to Secret Journeys was the people. From the beginning, the founder, Philippe Hertzberg, treated me as a true colleague and collaborator, even when he was really serving in a professorial role to me, whether he knew it or not. His treatment as the head of the organization really set the tone for my relationships with my other colleagues- many of them veterans of the New York Times, Le Monde, and other lauded news organizations. Initially, I expected to that my interactions with these seasoned professionals would be in a very traditionally hierarchical manner. But I was genuinely shocked by the value and consideration given to my verbal and written input. That extremely supportive and constructive work environment made me feel empowered to think for myself and gave me the confidence to be bold and take risks in my work and in my writing. 

What language(s) are you speaking/using in your internship? 

French and English 

Tells us about your future goals/aspirations. Is this internship relevant? Do you think it will help you along the way?  

My ultimate future goal is to work in development or strategy for a media organization. I have always been deeply interested in both business and current events and for a long time I wasn't totally sure what kind of career would fully incorporate those two fields. I think that working at Secret Journeys really helped me see how I could blend those two passions because as I mentioned, many of my colleagues at Secret Journeys have worked as journalists for some of the world's most renowned publications and their experience definitely gave me a better understanding of the current industry landscape which is rapidly changing in the digital age. Most of all, my boss and the Secret Journey's founder spent 15 years at the New York Times in the News Service and Global Syndication divisions and his professional experience really opened my eyes to the fact there is a business side to the news and media organizations that I already feel passionate about and that it could be sort of "the best of both worlds" for me.