The feelings of guilt for going overseas (when much of my family has never had the opportunity) were very real for me. I repeatedly was asked, “What does this have to do with college?” or “What does this have to do with your Accounting career?” by confused friends and family. At times, I even felt ashamed of acting excited, though it was a lifelong dream of mine to visit Asia.
Here is a list of ways my China Seminar helped my education and career. These were the things I was unable to explain to my family prior to departure, but wish I could have to show them how much the experience would benefit me in more ways than just tourism.
It helped me understand business concepts that I was not aware existed
Many of my classes have benefited from my international exposure. There were times before my trip when I would hear about “how different” business is in other countries, but I had no personal experiences to tie the new information with and it often times slipped my mind. After studying business in China, I realized how many topics from each class were clearer after my new understanding of the business world.
There is one class, especially that benefited from my international exposure, an interdisciplinary business course (UBUS 311, for any of NIU students who may be reading this). Our final project was an international expansion feasibility study for an assigned industry and country, and going abroad definitely gave me an advantage over my teammates on the “big picture” of the assignment. While many of my group-mates had been abroad for vacation (or grew up abroad), none had experienced businesses abroad the way I had.
It helped me understand the international students studying at my college
Once I returned and got back into my college grind, I found myself able to relate to many international students in a way I hadn’t before. After an experience as an outsider in which I stayed in a location that did not speak my first language, I had a new patience and empathy for those studying at my college who were not from the United States.
I understood before I went to China how much nerve it takes to introduce myself to someone from another culture, but did not realize the extra amount of nerve it takes when you feel you are in someone else’s home. I found myself introducing myself to more students and offering friendship and help on assignments, and ended up growing more as an individual once I returned because of this. With globalization becoming stronger every year, I know this is a quality that will help me through the years of my career.
It helped me secure an internship with a global accounting firm
Coming into my junior year I felt as though I had nothing exciting for my resume. While I had an adequate GPA and a lot of organizational involvement, there was nothing that really differentiated me from my classmates. After visiting China and putting International Business Seminars on my resume, that was about all I was asked about at Internship Fairs and the interviews following. Not only was it a differentiation between me and the students I was applying against, but it showed recruiters potential employers that I was willing and able to go out of my comfort zone and experience something unknown without letting fear hold me back. I not only stood out at internship fairs but impressed many recruiters. I feel this was one of the main reasons for my success.
For anyone experiencing the feelings I was prior to departure, I encourage you to trust that the program will enhance your life and career in ways that you cannot imagine! Do not let an opportunity like this pass you by due to the uncertainty of value.