Study Abroad and Career Paths

“Studying abroad allows you to come back and look at your own place and understand its strengths and weaknesses and escape from the idea, the deadly idea, that the way you are used to having things happen is the only way that they might work.” –Bill McKibben


The added perspective that a study abroad experience can provide is not just beneficial to a student’s personal development but also to their job prospects.

“Cross-cultural competency” is a new term buzzing among today’s hiring managers. It’s a quality that signifies a person’s ability to adapt and work within the context of unfamiliar cultures and situations.

So when it comes to effectively communicating the significance of an international experience on a resume or in an interview, “students have to learn how to talk about that experience in terms of transferrable skills [and] how it relates to what an employer wants,” explains Cheryl Matherly, Tulsa University’s associate dean of global education.

Reflecting on an Abroad Experience

Here are some useful questions you can ask yourself to evaluate your study abroad experience and how you might want to communicate it to an employer:

  • What cultural differences existed in the work environment (academic or professional) and how did I cope with them?
  • How did I work with others in my host country?
  • How did cultural perspectives influence the teaching styles in my host country? How did I adapt to them?


Doing Good, Doing Well: Now for Something Different


Time for a well deserved break!  Rest the mind, rejuvenate the spirit, and, well, maybe wonder a bit about the year to come and what you may want to create…

Need some inspiration?  Here are movies with stories about life purpose and direction. So, take a break from the books and enjoy some entertainment that may lead to clues on where you want to put your energy – once you have recovered from the busy semester.


Crossroads in the 20’s


Feeling overwhelmed with life as a college student?  Or maybe you are a recent graduate, still adjusting to life on your own.  Chances are you have been or are currently at a crossroad in your life. Which path do I choose?  This may include: major choice, career, relationships, finances, etc.

Twenty-somethings commonly struggle with expectations and ideas of life after graduation.

The truth is: you don’t need to know what your entire life will look like five, ten, or twenty years from now.  You will grow immensely as an individual in your twenties, since it is a time for reflection and personal growth.  You may change career paths four or five times to see what fits, and that is normal. It is all part of the learning process.

“You’re supposed to have moments of uncertainty about which path to take, because the twenties are full of crossroads.”- Lisa Kudrow’s Commencement Speech at Vassar College in May 2010, a humorous take on life in the twenties.

Recommended Reading- Kenneth Jedding’s Higher Education: On Life, Landing a Job, and Everything Else They Didn’t Teach You in College

This book addresses topics such as:

  • Marketing yourself after graduation in a tough economy, no matter your major.
  • Identifying transferable skills for any job.
  • Networking and developing contacts.
  • Finding work connections in your field of choice.
  • Early years on your own, as an adult.
  • Relationships, and much more.

Best wishes to a New Year 2012! Cheers!


Internship of the Month: Federal Public Defenders Office

Chris Minott

Intern: Chris Minott
Class Year: 2012
Major: Economics
Employer: Federal Public Defenders Office
Position: Investigator Assistant
LinkedIn Profile:

How would you describe the various projects you did in for your organization someone who is unfamiliar with your field?

As an Investigative Assistant at the Federal Public Defender’s Office, my role was to help investigate the clients that the Federal Public Defenders represent. Investigating our clients required requesting information related to medical and criminal histories from various hospitals, substance abuse centers, courts, and summarizing client information and key findings. This information was used to decide what the best way to serve our clients might be. I also assisted clients during their supervised release period, a post-incarceration period when clients must adhere to conditions, including a permanent residence, drug counseling (if the crime was drug related), and informing a parole officer on any changes in location. I would help research potential residences where clients could stay, substance abuse centers where clients could do their counseling, and exact requirements for what a client had to report to a parole officer. Some of the work I did was more mundane and included data entry, filing, and copying. To balance out these activities, I was allowed to observe various criminal proceedings in the federal courthouse and sit in on client interviews.

What did you like best about this internship? What was most challenging?

What I liked best was a conference the Federal Public Defenders hosted to discuss legal defense strategies for child pornography and human trafficking cases. Through this one conference I was able to learn a lot about criminal law and the thinking behind many of the motions and appeals I had been reading throughout my time at the office.

The most challenging part of working for the Federal Public Defenders was learning about the hardships some of our clients have suffered. All of our clients are indigent, so they face some degree of financial hardship, but beyond financial hardship, some of our clients have come from abusive households and other suffer crippling addictions. To see that some of our clients have suffered so much and continue to face great hardship was tough to handle.

How did you gain credit for this internship?

I got credit for my internship through a service-learning course (EDSS 239). The course met periodically throughout the semester and required essays designed to integrate internships with supplemental readings. Credit is based on how many hours you work and how many essays you are contract to write.

What impact did this internship have on your career direction?

My internship had a large impact on my career direction. Before my time with the Federal Public Defender’s Office I was struggling with whether or not I wanted to go to law school. After completing my internship, I know I want to go to law school. Seeing how the criminal justice system works and seeing how I could impact the world I live in with a legal education has made me realize that a career in law is what I am interested in pursuing.

What advice do you have for students searching for internships?

Look for an internship where you will be doing things that push you out of your comfort zone. I didn’t necessarily want to be in a position where I had to interact with clients and their family members (both of whom who were going through a very hard time) but now that I have, I am grateful for the experience and can appreciate how ‘eye opening’ is was.

Why should students do an internship?

Internships are a great way to see if a career path you are interested in is actually what you want to do. Also, if a student’s internship turns out to be in the field where that student wants to pursue a career, an internship also offers valuable contacts. Finally, internships offer a nice transition from school to the working world where one can learn how to act in an office setting and get used to the 9-5 grind.

Pre-Law Series: Watch and Learn

Courtroom Scene

The semester is almost over. Keep up the good work, you’re almost there! If you have also been working on applications to law school, then hopefully you are almost finished and ready for a well-deserved break.

As you look forward to some much needed free time, here are some resources for good movies and TV shows related to the law. Sit back and enjoy!

Top Ten Movies
ABA Journal: Top 25 Movies
Best Law Movies of All Time
Best Legal TV Shows
The Five Best Legal TV Shows of All Time

Of course, I don’t recommend relying only on TV and movies to learn about the law. Informational interviewing, or more simply, chatting with people about the work that they do in order to learn more, is a great way to get a first hand sense of the legal profession. Learn more about how to utilize networking and info interviewing in your career exploration. Here are some great questions to get you started on your networking conversations.

You can use these questions and tips whether you are setting up a formal informational interview through our alumni Career Connection, attending a Networking Event over winter break, or just casually chatting with your friend’s parents over dinner.

Good luck with finals!