Prague-Tical Experience

This past summer, Scripps seniors and economics students Mackenzie Rowe and Sarah Junker shared an experience they won’t soon forget. The two worked as trainees at PRE, the electricity company for Prague, Czechoslovakia. Mackenzie and Sarah were the second team of Scripps students to participate in the program, arranged by Professor of Economics Patricia Dillon.

Each student spent the month of June working on a sizeable project of interest to the company. They had four weeks to research their topics, write up a report, and then present their findings to management and to their coworkers. Sarah’s topic was “Information Technology: Outsourcing as a Solution”; Mackenzie studied and reported on “Customer Service: Practices in U.S. Electric Utilities.” In their evaluation reports, PRE officials gave the traineeships a number one ranking and characterized the projects as “really successful.”

PRE paid for the students’ room, board, and incidentals. The students were provided a modest apartment and given transport passes and enough pocket money to buy groceries.

What made the experience in Prague especially unique and challenging for the two was that it was their first real taste of the working world. Despite the fact that they were immersed in a culture and language foreign to them, they were expected to put in an 8-4 work day and to complete a project that would benefit the company.

Mackenzie adds, “It was really my first experience being out on my own, living in a flat, trying to get around in a city where most people did not speak English and you really couldn’t figure out the signs.” She reports that they would take a bag of clothes and a dictionary with them to do laundry-the owner of their apartment building didn’t speak English.

Patricia Dillon is particularly proud of the students who have had this unique experience. “Our two women may be the only American students doing business internships in a Czech company.”

The internships are part of an exchange program between Scripps and PRE. PRE has sent several representatives to Scripps in recent years as short-term visitors.