Career Fest 2013: Study abroad students learn how to market their experiences

One of Suffolk’s biggest attractions is its study abroad program. On top having a second campus in Madrid, Suffolk offers a wide variety of study abroad options that students cannot find at most other schools in the country.

As part of this year’s Career Fest, a panel of four Suffolk alums gathered in the Poetry Center on Tuesday to talk to students about how they used their study abroad experiences in the job market. Alumni Jonathan Darden and Lindsey Darling, both employed by the office of Undergraduate Admissions, joined alumns Brittany McDonough and Emily Torres-Cullinane on the panel.

Studying abroad is an  opportunity to branch out and learn new things not only about one’s self, but other people and cultures. What many students do not realize is that studying abroad is also a marketable experience that looks great to potential employers.

Each panel member had a unique story about how their study abroad experience has helped them in the working world. Darden recalled going in for a job interview with a man from Spain, and the conversation went from being an English conversation about business to a Spanish conversation about soccer. He felt that both his grasp of the language and knowledge of another culture gave him an edge over other applicants.

(Photo by Haley Carloni)

“It gives you more to talk about in interviews,” McDonough added. “It sets yourself apart in a creative way.”

The panel also stressed the importance of how the study abroad experience fosters independence.

“[Studying abroad] shows employers that you are a go-getter. That you are independent. Showing that is always a good thing and employers will like that,” Darling said. Torres-Cullinane added that one of the most important things she learned studying abroad was the ability to think on her feet in a completely new situation.

The seminar was helpful to both students who had already studied abroad and those who are planning to. While the point of the event was to teach students how to market their study abroad experience, the stories and advice the panelists had were also helpful to students who had not yet gone abroad and still need to prepare.

As well as being great for interviews and resumes, studying abroad presents an opportunity to network with people all around the country and the world.

“You do make connections… [I made connections] that are like family. Even after 10 years we are still in touch,” Darling said, backing it up with an anecdote about a friend from studying abroad who lives in Washington, D.C. “Now I know that I always have a connection in D.C.”

Suffolk has a tremendous study abroad program that most schools do not measure up to. Many colleges have limited study abroad options that are classified by major.

“I work with colleges around the country and they are impressed with our study abroad programs,” Darling said.

Darden added, “You are all very fortunate to have such a flexible study abroad program,”

The sessions was very informative and gave students a brand new persepctive on studying abroad.

“The seminar definitely helped me learn how I could market my study abroad experience past just saying ‘I had a great time!,'” said student Haley Carloni, who spent all of last year in Madrid. “The panel definitely made me re-think my experience in Madrid and evaluate everything I learned. I would recommend studying abroad to anyone and everyone. There really is no experience like it.”