Life at Language I/O: Living Abroad and Growing Professionally as an Intern

Contributed to the Language I/O blog by Karson Potter.

For the past six months, I’ve had the opportunity to work as an Accounting and Finance Intern at Language I/O. My time here has been invaluable, both from a professional development standpoint as well as the relationships I’ve made with the team. Through Language I/O, I had the opportunity to do things I never thought I would, including gaining professional experience while living abroad in Europe.

Though my time with Language I/O is coming to an end soon, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on my experience here.

Meeting Language I/O

While reviewing the businesses that would be making an appearance at the University of Wyoming’s career fair, a company that caught my attention was Language I/O. Though my field of study is accounting and finance, I am passionate about language learning and travel, and have always had an interest in technology and computer science, so I made a note to visit Language I/O’s booth at the fair.

On the day of the fair, I ended up speaking with Heather Shoemaker, Language I/O’s CEO, and Kalie Spurgas, our Business Operations Manager. Though I wasn’t intentionally searching for a position and Language I/O wasn’t actively looking for an accounting intern, they were expecting some exciting developments in the finance department and, as a result, passed my resumé along to Meg Fahey, our CFO. 

Next thing I knew, I was meeting with Meg and the other members of the Finance and Operations team at Language I/O to discuss a summer internship. Between my impressions from the career fair and the conversations I had with the team, I was extremely excited at the opportunity to work with a team poised for growth, as well as one that is clearly dedicated to employee wellness and diversity. So when the internship offer came, I was overjoyed.

Working Abroad

During my interviews with Language I/O, I learned of its “work from anywhere” policy and how at least one employee had aligned that structure with her digital nomad lifestyle. Because of this, I asked if it would be possible for me to intern while working remotely from Europe. To my immense gratitude, Language I/O was happy to accommodate this. That evening, I purchased plane tickets to Brussels, Belgium, and began preparing to live there for two months. It was a dream come true: I would work during the week while living with close friends in the city center, and had the opportunity to travel on the weekends.  

Language I/O’s commitment to flexibility and adaptability was continually demonstrated throughout the onboarding process. As I came online my first day, I received a warm welcome from the team on Slack and, throughout my first few weeks, had the opportunity to meet with folks in different departments. As excited as I had been about working from Europe, I was unsure of how teamwork and camaraderie would work while doing so, but it became clear from the moment I joined that prioritizing positive working friendships was heavily encouraged.

Fostering Further Diversity

As I acclimated to our tools and team structure, I noticed the variety of interest-based Slack channels the team has in place to facilitate conversations between coworkers. The welcoming onboarding process empowered me to start a LGBTQ+ affinity group, named #pride-at-lio, where team members from all different departments came together to celebrate Pride and each other. This initiative wasn’t just accepted by leadership, but welcomed and supported.

Seeing the activity in the #pride-at-lio channel was such a fun and rewarding experience. It was immediately clear how valuable the channel was for fostering conversations about diversity and helping team members to understand the experiences of their colleagues in a way they couldn’t otherwise see. In fact, after annual team retreat in Jackson, Wyoming, a member of the team that I now consider a friend sent me a message: 

“I feel like the retreat went much smoother than it would have for a lot of people, including myself, because the pride-at-lio channel exists and we knew who’s a part of the crew and who are allies and all that. We were hanging out a lot and talking about queer experiences and a lot of other things, which might not have happened without the channel you created!”

Working With the Team

As for the work itself, I had the opportunity to work on a far more diverse set of projects compared to previous internships. Right away, I got to be part of the implementation team for an ERP migration as well as the proof-of-concept (and subsequent implementation) for a business intelligence tool. I also shadowed the finance operations team to prepare procedural documentation and completed a data analysis project of historical sales deals. The latter project culminated in a presentation to the executive team and a discussion about strategy moving forward.

During my time as an intern, I explored and improved my communication skills from both an internal and customer-facing perspective, balancing professionalism and customer success to manage our various accounts receivable and collections tasks. All of my initiatives were supported by direct mentorship and guidance from team members across all levels and departments of the organization.

While I was able to learn a lot that will directly prepare me for my future career, what has had the biggest impression on me was the opportunity to learn from wonderful mentors, add strong relationships to my professional network, and forge fulfilling friendships.

As my time with Language I/O comes to a close, I am so grateful for the experiences I had while working here. Though my post-college career will be taking me in a different direction, I can’t wait to see how the team here continues to grow and develop its exciting offerings. And who knows—one day, I might just find myself back here!