While in college, I discovered a class that allowed me to travel abroad without leaving for an entire semester. As a travel lover, but also someone who relied on full-time work while in school, the Summer China trip seemed like an amazing opportunity to study abroad and experience a new culture. It was a fraction of the cost of a semester abroad and allowed me to take a vacation from work, instead of leaving altogether. Plus, it fit well within my International Business concentration for my degree.
Not only did I love my trip to China, but I enjoyed it so much I enrolled in the IBS program to Vietnam and Thailand ~7 months later. These trips were not only a way for me to study abroad in a different way, but it also helped prepare me for my professional career post-college.
And here’s how:
1. At each company, we spoke with employees who worked for the company in a variety of roles. Students were encouraged to ask detailed questions about their business, their experience working in a different country (especially if they were ex-pats), and about cultural differences. This helped me practice speaking up in professional settings, ask questions, and have productive conversations. Even now, three years later, I use these skills in my day-to-day work.
2. I met other students from many different schools around the US. This helped me continue growing my interpersonal skills and learn how to work with different types of people. Which in turn set me up in my first post-grad internship where I worked with other interns from all over the country.
3. These trips also gave me a glimpse into other cultures. I specifically picked the Asia-based programs because I wanted to see cultures that felt drastically different than where I lived. Not only did I gain understanding into business culture of these countries, but I learned a lot about how local culture impacts these business practices. In my first full-time role after graduation, I worked with people from many places around the US, as well as teams in Europe and Asia, and even had a manager from Nepal. By having a small understanding of how culture plays in the workplace, I went into these relationships more open-minded and therefore had better relationships with my coworkers.
In the end
Studying abroad gave me experience in ways that helped my career go from intern to marketing associate to marketing specialist to assistant marketing manager in just three years. I will always take these lessons with me as I continue in my career.