Thursday, April 24, 2014

Job Applications and Study Abroad.

Wanderlust. That urge to travel everywhere, the notion that beauty is everywhere, the near need to be everywhere. It happens and it happened to me. While studying abroad does require some studying, it also requires a little bit of fun and adventure. I have participated in two study abroad opportunities: my first was to China for two weeks on the China short study business tour in March of 2012 and the second was to Zwolle, Netherlands in the fall semester of 2013. As a graduating senior I have had to turn my study abroad experiences into promotable objects on my resume and cover letters. Sure, it is interesting to show someone where you studied abroad and list all the cool places that you went to (no worries, I have pictures for the end..) but more importantly what did you LEARN from your time abroad?

From my experiences I was able to pull the ability to learn quickly and adapt to my surroundings. Have you ever been to China or tried to read their language? Not something very easy to pick up therefore, being creative and patient allowed for me to get around easily and communicate with people in the stores and at restaurants.  I remember in one "American" restaurant we eventually resorted to the old point and pick method because even the chef who spoke "English" only knew the words "Marinara" and "Beef". But being able to adapt to your surrounds and think both on your feet and intelligently about where you want to go and what you need to be doing is a skill you can learn from an education abroad experience.

In the Netherlands the course work I focused in was international business and cross-cultural management. Both impressive to see on a resume, because where better to learn about business and culture in many different settings than in a foreign country? However, easier said than done. A group project that was assigned was working on dissecting an international company from the inside out and then creating two different reports on the situation followed by a group presentation. What generates an, "ugh, not another group project" from the Americans also generates a huge challenge for other students who don't natively speak the English the project must be prepared and presented in. Each group was made up of different countries, my group was: Choi from South Korea, Robin from the Netherlands, Martin from Ireland, and myself from the USA. When you think about educational stereotypes in the different countries you are more than right. As a student from the States I was focused on individual work, divide and conquer, while my other 3 group members were from societies which focus on group learning and group activities. This was the challenge: working with students from all different backgrounds. We had to address concerns about how we typically complete work at home, how we had to change that for this project, how we were going to complete the project, and over come all the additional hurdles along the way. On a resume, this is easy to clean up by saying that you learned how to work in diverse group settings, or even in an internationally driven group. Working in groups, even those you don't always get along with, is something that happens daily in the real world. Being able to successfully over come the international barriers present in those type of international education stand points is incredibly impressive and a real job getter. Of all the interviews I have had, telling my prospective employers about my experiences abroad has been a huge hit and a great conversation starter.

My final advice: If you have yet to study abroad, look up ways prior to leaving that can help you tailor your experience to the job market after graduation. If you have already studied abroad, look at everything you did in the shoes of an employer, what did you do that would make you want to hire yourself? It sounds silly, but really... it helps.

Katy Lang
History & Political Science
Graduates May 2014

Now, if you have made it this far, here are some pictures of my adventures abroad:
Iamsterdam - Visiting Amsterdam

Lunch in front of the Notre Dame, Paris (September)

Typical food in Brussels, but we had this all over the Netherlands as well

Jardin de Luxemborg, Paris in September.

Utrecht, Netherlands (My favorite picture)

Skoluvnde, Denmark
The "suburb" I stayed in with family friends outside of Kobenhavn

Code de Hammurabi
The Louvre

City Square by the Royal Palace
Brussels, Belgium

Nyhavn, Kobenhavn, Denmark

Trying Sarah's waffle in Brussels

"The Little Mermaid"
Kobenhavn, Denmark

Cathedral in Cologne Germany
Surprisingly it was untouched during WWII when
the rest of the city was destroyed by bombs

Rotterdam, Netherlands across the Erasmus Bridge

Guinness Storehouse in Dublin
My mom came to visit me for Christmas and New Years

The Great Wall in Beijing
March 2012

Jumbo on a boat tour in Hong Kong
March 2012

Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
March 2012

and Zwollywood, my home for 5 months
Zwolle, Netherlands
August 28, 2013-January18, 2014

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