OWL Talks

The World is at Your Feet: Making the Most of Study Abroad

Posted by Anna Szczebak '20 on Jul 22, 2019 11:48:00 AM

So. You’ve had this amazing, life-changing adventure. You’ve studied abroad. But what do you do now? (Besides rave about it to anyone who will listen.) Well, as I learned at the Welcome Back Reception for returning study abroad students, there are countless ways to extend the study abroad experience back to life in the U.S. This is important information to know for people who have studied abroad and those who are considering doing so. After you travel across the world and back, the world is at your feet. Here’s how you take advantage of it.

Students in Bolivia

Option 1: Let it get you a job

97% of students with Study Abroad on their resumes find employment within twelve months of graduating compared to only 49% of students who haven’t studied abroad. Studying abroad makes you a more flexible and adaptive person, better prepared to succeed in a multicultural environment. These are all highly sought-after traits. Use them to your advantage! At the Welcome Back Reception, Giselle Frechette, Associate Director and Coordinator of Experiential Education at the Career Center, spoke about how the Career Center can help you utilize study abroad to its full advantage throughout your career search. They can incorporate it into your resume and cover letter, identify opportunities where it would be an advantage, and prepare you to answer questions about it in an interview. On the other hand, what if studying abroad changes the plans you had for the future? What if it makes you want to change the direction of your career and your life entirely? The Career Center can help whether you realize this now or while going through a midlife crisis at fifty years old. The services offered at the Career Center will always be available to you.

Option 2: Showcase it

Also at the Welcome Back Reception, Lamis Jarvinen, the Director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA), talked about how the CURCA celebration held on campus gives students the opportunity to present projects or research they’ve completed, either in oral or poster form. Is there a project you did for one of your classes abroad? Have you written something about your experience since you came home? Are you looking to highlight your trip in a professional portfolio? CURCA will provide a medium to showcase these types of projects.

Students In Bolivia

Option 3: Help others have the same experience

Whenever I ask people what their favorite part of studying abroad was, they always say that it was the people they encountered and the friends they made. You could have the same impact on the international students currently studying abroad here at WSU. The Office of International Programs employs students to be mentors to WSU’s international students. Mentors pick them up from the airport, give them a tour of the school, help them move in, and serve as a connection for them on campus.

Option 4: Everything but the kitchen sink

There are countless opportunities available to you once you return from abroad. You could be an intern in the Office of International Programs. (Just like me!). You can join the International and Intercultural Club. You can write articles about your experience for the student newspaper or The Squirrel Squire. You can continue to pursue whatever language (that you began learning abroad). The point is, studying abroad isn’t just a temporary experience. You’ve opened an international door, but in doing so you’ve unlocked an array of opportunities much closer to home. All you have to do is take advantage of them.

Honors Program Assistant Director Dr. Hillary Sackett-Taylor and Carly Thibodeau in Costa Rica to research ecotourism

For more details about Westfield’s international education options and links to the resources you’ll need to get started, visit our Study Abroad page. Students can also visit the International Programs Office in Parenzo Hall lobby, Room 130.

Reprinted from the Squirrel Squire, newsletter of the Honors Program

Topics: Study abroad, Enhance Your College Experience

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