This week’s blog is a spotlight on UCF College of Business student Lidia Rodriguez. If you know Lidia, you know that she’s an awesome student who will do amazing things; if you don’t know her, get to know her! I asked Lidia to write about what she learned from her study abroad experience and how that experience helped in her career preparation. This is what she had to say!
Study abroad helped me with my self-growth, my confidence, it pushed me beyond my limits and expanded my mind; yet it wasn’t until these past few weeks that I’ve been actively thinking and taking actions into my career that has made me realize that studying abroad is helping me in finding a job.
Although my job finding wasn’t a driving force for me to study abroad, the more time that goes by, the more I reap the benefits of such an experience in all aspects of my life, including finding a job.
Yes, I was able to travel all throughout Europe, become more culturally aware and sensitive, have one of the best times of my life with fellow UCF and non-UCF students; I also had the opportunity to study at one of the top economic schools in Europe, take risks and gain exposure working with teams of different cultures and backgrounds.
How many people can say that they’ve had experience working alongside a group with Austrians, French and Albanians? Having to deal with different communication styles and with people whose first language isn’t English can not only help you think of how to work around such circumstances, but also increase your general problem solving skills. My experiences during group projects while studying abroad translate well into the type of situations that will surely arise when working for a company in dealing with different departments or different countries; or it could be even more relevant as a behavioral question on the day of the interview.
The person who studied abroad isn’t afraid to take risks. I left with a broken foot (on an orthopedic boot and crutches) to a country that I barely knew the language of, has completely opposite weather and at the other end of the cultural spectrum. But you learn to roll with the punches, for example, my roommate was a Buddhist from Kazakhstan and only spoke Russian and German whereas I’m a Hispanic catholic fluent in English and Spanish! It’s all part of the study abroad experience, and it just gives you more to draw upon when recruiters are asking you tough questions about a time you had to adapt or had a conflict. It can truly give you some resounding answers to such a question.
Studying abroad also involved a lot of pre-planning and time management. For many of us, we had to save up money months in advance, fill out essays, apply for multiple scholarships, prepare paperwork, passport, and visa; it all adds up! Not only money but also time, you’re doing all this while being a full time student and most likely doing an internship or job! It will definitely reflect in your character that you were able to plan such a huge project that requires coordination over paperwork and several countries in the face of a recruiter.
Although at first glance most people think of studying abroad as a time to have fun and explore -and it is- it also teaches invaluable skills that recruiters are looking for that are much tougher to gain in a regular classroom setting. As my graduation date creeps up on me (May 2015!) and I move from career fair into the interview stages, I’ve learned that studying abroad has given me an invaluable edge in the process!
Note: For those of you interested in learning more about incorporating Study Abroad into your curriculum, shoot an email to Suzanne Waldrop at: Suzanne.firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll be amazed at what you learn!