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Sunday, May 9, 2021

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Taliane Elobo (far left) participated in the Academic Training program, which allows foreign exchange students to gain practical experience in their field during or after their studies at SDSU. Taliane Elobo (far left) participated in the Academic Training program, which allows foreign exchange students to gain practical experience in their field during or after their studies at SDSU.
 


Seizing the Opportunity

French exchange student Taliane Elobo landed a prestigious television internship through the Academic Training program.
By Aaron Burgin
 

“Having this internship not only has provided me with the training, it also provided me with an opportunity that if I was in France I’m not sure I would have.”

French exchange student Taliane Elobo came to San Diego State University to study journalism at one of the top programs on the West Coast and to be closer to Mexico, but she returns home this month after another, unexpected adventure. 

Thanks to advice from her SDSU student adviser, Elobo has spent the past six months interning for France 2, a major French TV news network, in its Washington, D.C., bureau – an experience coveted by many aspiring journalists in her native country.

“It has been really awesome; it’s an experience that I barely have words to describe,” said Elobo, who is from Durtal, France, and attends the University of Tours. “France 2 is like CNN in France. It’s a huge company and hard to get your feet in the company, and I’ve always wanted to work for them. Having this internship not only has provided me with the training, it also provided me with an opportunity that if I was in France I’m not sure I would have.”

Elobo attended SDSU during the 2018-19 school year, studying in the School of Journalism and Media Studies. After spending a year in Mexico in 2015, Elobo said she wanted to come back during college to study near the country, for which she said she has a soft spot.

“I was excited to go to San Diego because I knew it was close to the border and the Mexican culture was very present,” Elobo said. “And, of course, life is always better in California.”

While at SDSU, Elobo said she learned how to work collaboratively with classmates, better manage her time and become self-sufficient away from home, and she also improved her English.

But she said the most valuable lesson she learned was when she received an email from SDSU about a workshop on internships for exchange students. While her home university had an internship requirement for graduation, Elobo hadn’t planned on fulfilling the requirement in the United States because she wasn’t sure how to go about it.

She attended the workshop and learned from exchange student adviser Isabel Martorell about a program called J-1 Academic Training. It allows students on J-1 visas to extend their stay in the United States, provided they can find a job or paid or unpaid internship in their field of study, are in good academic standing and have enough finances and health insurance during their stay.

“She explained that it would be possible to intern or work, and I was interested,” Elobo said. “If I could find one in the U.S., it would be cool.”

Elobo immediately started to search for an internship. Her tenacity left a lasting impression on Martorell, who works in the International Student Center and said that exchange students face numerous hurdles in obtaining employment and internships.

“One of the challenges for students on a J-1 visa who wish to apply for this benefit is that they must secure an internship before their exchange program ends,” Martorell said. “Exchange students are normally here for only one or two semesters, leaving them with little time to navigate the job search in a completely new country, with all of the cultural differences and nuances that come with that.

“I remember Taliane sharing how she went about contacting many different companies early on during her exchange program. She was determined and not afraid to reach out to employers directly,” Martorell said. “I think this proactive approach helped her greatly in finding this great opportunity within the time limits that she faced.”

Elobo said that her parents were supportive of her extending her stay in the United States.

“They knew that it was a great opportunity and that I was very passionate about being a journalist,” Elobo said. “They were proud of me being able to find an internship and doing everything I needed to do to do it.”

Within a couple of months, Elobo was able to land the internship at France 2. There, she said she’s done more than just “copying and sending emails.” She produces social media content, conducts video interviews and writes scripts, all while forging a lasting bond with her seven bureau mates.

Recently she reached out to Martorell to tell her about her internship experience. “I was happy to hear from Taliane recently about how well her internship is going and how much more prepared she feels to enter the workforce when she returns to France,” Martorell said.   

Meanwhile, Elobo is preparing for her next step – which she hopes is a job at France 2 after her spring graduation. 

“The bureau chief here has spoken with me and is going to write a recommendation letter for me,” Elobo said. “In five years, I hope to still be a journalist and still working for France 2. I have loved my experience in the U.S., so I would like to continue to work on U.S. topics, or even topics in Mexico or other countries in North America, even if I am in France.” 

To learn more about the J-1 Academic Training program, visit the program website.