Seeking new inspiration – California Summer 2011 – BUNAC, J1 Visa and USA Internship

Todays written words will be predominantly random thoughts related to my current state of mind here in London, where we are slowly moving out of European winter into Spring (thank god!). As happens to most of us, I got caught up again (shame on me…) with the obstacles of my daily life. Blame it on the deadlines and required mental focus on my studies. In the end high academic performance is nevertheless important to me, and I have set my studies as my priority throughout my time in London. Continue reading to find out about my plans to spend summer in beautiful California…


By the way I am listening to the tunes of DJ Black Coffee at the moment. If you get a chance, I can recommend to check out some of his music. It takes me deep down into the southern hemisphere wanting to dance and just let go of all stresses and worries modern society triggers within myself…

Have a sample listen here:

Anyway, in the end my hard work paid off, as it usually does if you really give the best of your ability at a given time, and I was able to achieve my highest results since I started my degree at London Metropolitan University. And without jumping too far from the actual subject I wanted to tackle in this post – I stumbled upon a new course that will be starting at London Met from the next academic year, the ideal course I would have loved to have chosen 2 years ago – MEDIA BUSINESS MANAGEMENT – so anyone interested in the traditional and digital media industries, business management and marketing, you should definitely have a look. But keep in mind UK tuition fees are rising from 2012.

Anyway, to get back on track here, as I am writing this post, I just finished updating my cover letter and CV for my summer work experience application for an internship in California, USA. Yes, you heart correctly, my next destination for the coming university break will be the US again. It has been quite a long time – amazing actually if I think about it that 7 years have gone by since I spent my Junior High School year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

After returning to London last September after 8 months of amazing travel experiences, spending time on the beautiful island of Cyprus, and being able to attend the World Cup 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa, I needed something to look forward to, a new source of inspiration, a new goal to aim for, another dream to fulfil in my already amazingly blessed little existence on this planet earth. And the West Coast of the US has always been a destination and experience quite high on my list of things I want to do while I am around.

When beginning to conceptualize the idea, I started doing some research and very soon realized, that doing an internship in the US was not going to be as easy to organise in comparison to my past two summers in South Africa. Regulations and requirements to even be able to receive the appropriate visa to be allowed to intern in the US (even if you volunteer or work for free) are probably some of the most complex of any country. So in case you are considering an internship abroad, you should definitely determine first what your objectives and motivations are when cosidering the US, as any other English speaking country would require a lot less time, effort and money, providing you most probably with a very similar leanring and cultural experience.

The immense fascination of America and the US in particular, which I had in my teenage years, and irrespective of the fact that I loved my time living in Pittsburgh, has vanished, and I took my time to evaluate my options for the coming summer months. In the end, even though I am missing my beloved South Africa very much, I chose California, USA, as I see it as an increadible opportunity from a longer-term strategic perspective to have work experience in the mecca of film-making, as well as the leading music and entertainment market in the world. Besides that, as I mentioned before, it has always been a dream of mine to live in California, and the best way to find out where this passion come from, is to actually go and experience the place, the people, the culture for yourself, to then be better able to determine for yourself, if it is a suitable place to incldue in future choices when it comes to deciding for a place to live and settle…

After much research, and some valuable discussions with a friend of mine, who had spent the last two summers in the US, I decided to apply for the BUNAC Work America Programme, a J1 visa sponsor organisation, that provides support in all administrative aspects before and during my time in the US. For mor information on the J1 visa read more here. One needs to consider quite considerable costs when planning an internship in the USA, as you need to pay the visa sponsor to receive a specific document named DS-2019, a visa fee, SEVIS registration fee and insurance for the time in the US. The costs vary from organisation to organisation (Total: 400-700pounds), and this does not include flight, finding an internship and living costs in the US.


With the help of BUNAC London, my visa application worked out very smooth and faster then I expected. Already on the 8th of March I had my Visa interview at the US Embassy London. Every applicant has to attend a personal interview, in order to be granted the J1 Visa. Arriving at the embassy at 9am for a 9.30am appointment, prepared with numerous books as I was expecting to be spending the whole day in the embassy, I ended up walking out 9.35am with my visa approved!

Based on my positive experiences in the last two year using agencies to secure internships for me, I am planning to use the same strategy this year. As Agency prices and services, as well as specialisation varies from country to country, I chose a new company for the USA. Have a look at the website of Diplom Campus if you are considering an international work experience.

Diplom Campus

I am eager to gain further professional experiences related to the management and marketing of products and services within the media and entertainment industries, working for a progressive organisation that can provide exposure to a broad range of activities. Throughout my studies and previous work experience I have been able to explore and further strengthen my passion in the diverse fields of media, marketing, as well as new digital technologies. I am particularly interested in a learning experience in digital marketing and production management within the television, film, music, radio or new media industries.

In order to be able to get an internship that specifically suits my interests and directly relates to my field of study, using an internship placement agency is a great help, as it basically guarantees that you will be able to work in your industry with a success rate of 90% or higher. The downside is obviously that you have to pay for the services. In the end one needs to evaluate what the chances are of securing an interhsip independently in the desired company or industry sector, and if the money invested resulting in high probablity of securing an internship is worth it, in comparison to the extra work load and less carlity when doing it alone.

To wrap things up, if everything works out as planned, I will be moving to the US from 13. June 2011 until 16. September 2011. At the moment I am in my fifth semester at university, which I am hoping to sucessfully complete at the end of May, followed by a 4 months break, before I am returning to London for my last semester, resulting in my graduation at the end of January 2012.

Looking at my plans for 2012 and beyond, I will be trying to find a job in South Africa from March 2012, and I will at the same time start applying for Master degree programmes in Sweden and Finland. Depending on if I get into my desired university and programme, I will either return to Europe in August 2012 or continue staying in SA for another year and another round of applications. Still one always needs to keep in mind that circumstances change, opportunities arise, and plans are dynamic and can change at any time…so this is just a snapshot of my current state of mind.

If you are considering going abroad for whatever purpose, or you are thinking about an internship in another country, please contact me and I am more then willing to provide you with any advice based on my previous experiences. Maybe I can be of help and make a little bit of a difference.



5 responses

  1. Great to read your words as well my friend! I hope California sun is treating you well. Eat some guacamole for me. One day we’ll have to compare notes to see if China or the US has more complicated visa processes. haha. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts soon!

  2. Have a fantatstic time in China! Cant wait to meet you again one day soon! 🙂

  3. Hey I hope your exploring and experiencing is going well. Get in touch when you back and don’t forget to stay motivated. Also check out:

  4. Hey Matus, I had an amazing summer in Califorina. Have fallen in love with the lifestyle, weather and people there! Thank you for the video link! Hope to see you soon!

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