Spotlight Sydney Alum: Jenna S. & Kay W.

Global Experiences


Jenna S. 

 When/what/where was your internship? How was it?

My internship was in Sydney, Australia with a prominent boutique hotel group. I worked primarily for the Sales and Marketing Departments but also assisted with the Human Resources and Online Marketing Departments.

My internship experience was exceptional, and I learned an extraordinary amount of knowledge about my field of study and my skill performance. Even just the routine of working in a professional environment and being exposed to professionals prepared me for the working world post graduation.

What did you gain while living in a new environment?

Living and working in an unknown environment and culture has taught me a lot about myself. I faced obstacles that I overcame and grew an immense amount of self-confidence while being abroad. Going through the process of traveling and then becoming familiar with new people while being so far from home has allowed me to be more confident in jumping into new challenges that have come my way since my internship.  

As I traveled by myself to a new country not quite knowing what was ahead of me has proved to me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I received nothing but great appreciation for my work at my internship and also have kept in touch with many of my coworkers and friends that I met while being in Sydney and that for me is rewarding in itself.

How did your international internship help you once you returned?

I feel much more knowledgeable about the world and have become much more aware of what other opportunities are out there after being abroad. Sharing my experiences with my friends and family here in the US has allowed me to reflect on my travels and really pin point the special memories that I have to cherish. Also, not to mention that my abroad internship experience looks great on my resume!!

What do you do now, and how do you think your experience helped you reach this point?

I am currently a senior at James Madison University and am anticipating graduation in May of 2012. I am undergoing the process of applying to graduate schools at the moment and my abroad experience has assisted me most in providing me with exceptional reference letters as well as credentials on my resume.

What would you say to someone thinking about working abroad? What advice would you give?

ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, TAKE THE LEAP and GO!!!! Going abroad was one of the greatest decisions I have made and it has exposed me to so many things that life has to offer. Not to mention, I returned home prouder of myself than when I left.

Kay W.

When/what/where was your internship? How was it?

I was part of the spring 2011 Internship Program in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. My internship was working for a non-for-profit organization in Manly, New South Wales, which is one of Sydney's beautiful northern beaches. My internship was truly one of the most humbling and captivating experiences one could have. My role and job requirements primarily consisted of:

A) Retail Leasing
B) Destination Marketing and Promotions
C) Event Staging
D) Op Site Management

Today, I still remain in contact with my employer and stay up-to-date in all of the organization's events.

What did you gain while living in a new environment?

Hunger, thirst, and perspective on life. It may sound silly, but I was born and raised in the United States for 22 years. I grew up in an environment, culture, and atmosphere that today I now realize was very privileged. When the opportunity came for me to live and work outside of my comfort zone half-way across the world I went for it.

I grew up hearing and believing that the USA had everything I ever needed, but I felt like I needed to see what else was out there. Traveling to Australia it was very industrialized and modern -- just like home, although with more of a laid back-beach-lifestyle. Though, Australia has this unique, edgy, one-of-kind place for people to experience. There is beauty all around you with the country, people, languages, and culture.

My last two days in Oz I will never forget. After going on a two-week holiday after my internship was over and before I was to return on my flight home to the US, I went to Bali, Indonesia and Fiji's mainland with two of the Global Experiences ladies that I quickly garnered long lasting relationships with. When we returned with one day in Sydney to enjoy before our flights home the next day, we went to my favorite restaurant with a few of our other friends and we sat and talked about the last four months in Australia.

There was laughter, tears, and bittersweet memories that left us mesmerized. Saying goodbye from friends all over the world was difficult, but we made promises that we would keep in touch and find new places around the world to meet up at. When I finally got on my flight back home, my heart sank and I was overwhelmed with tears.

For the last four months of my life I was on my own in a foreign country, lived, worked, and met people that I never thought possible. I knew that I didn't want to leave and I uncovered my flaw in living/growing up in the USA -- It didn't give me the world.

How did your international internship help you once you returned?

After I returned from Australia, I graduated in May, but found out I was short in a credit for class which I had to extend till December 2011. During the summer until the middle of December my University Athletic department hired me back on as the assistant to the Director of Special Events, with whom I had worked before I left for Australia. After having valuable work experience in Australia, I felt different getting back to work in the USA again -- but I was better this time around. Upon officially completing my undergraduate work, I was contemplating where I wanted to be and where I wanted to work.

A lot of my friends were landing jobs in Washington, D.C. or moving back home, but I felt indifferent to all of those options. After returning from the land of Oz I came back with a hunger to return. It is quite difficult to land a sponsorship with an international employer, but I truly believe someone was looking out for me to which one day in October I came across an a job that was based in Bad Nauheim, Germany. I didn't think much of it; I didn't think it was possible given the prestige in landing this opportunity. I interviewed and heard back in less than the time they stated that I was being offered the position.

I truly believe that with my experience in working over in Australia really helped me land the position. It's not every day you will find an international job right out of college and moving there upon the start of the New Year. I believe Australia helped me become independent, industrious, curious, worldly, competent, and overall the ability to live outside of comfort zones.

What do you do now, and how do you think your experience helped you reach this point?

As stated above, I work for an international sport and marketing agency called ITMS Marketing, which is located in Bad Nauheim, Germany as their Account Coordinator. My work is divided up with two of our global clients, which I am in charge of planning, organizing and delivering numerous campaigns and events. If it wasn't for my experience in Australia and my two years working for the Director of Special Events at James Madison University I would have never been in this position.

What would you say to someone thinking about working abroad? What advice would you give?

If the opportunity presents itself, take it and never look back. There are two things about working and living abroad that I would say helped me through this entire transition and process.

1. Leaving your friends, family, and "normal" life behind -- When I first relayed the news I was taking this position in Germany everybody looked at me crazy and thought I was kidding. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents always told me, "You can go anywhere you want in the world; we would like you here, but you have to live your life."

With that being said, it was tough to leave my parents and friends, but I knew I would have all of that in Europe. Trust me, it is not an easy decision and it requires long consideration, but, at the end of the day, your 20's are meant for you to experience and try new things. At this age I have nothing holding me back and I was eager to see more of this world.

2. It's not going to be easy -- Finding a job abroad is not easy and requires a lot of paper work and a lot of experience. Sometimes there are paid internships or traineeships that allow you to be contracted with the possibility of continuing on with the company for a more permanent job. In Europe, this is very common especially in this industry. I am currently in this position with the understanding if my work has exceeded the expectation I would be asked to stay on.

This was something of course I didn't want to deal with because everyone wants that full-time job right out of college. With the economy and taking a big risk in a graduate right out of college from "across the pond," a contract worked well for me. I have an amazing package with my work, in which I have been able to travel all over Europe and will be traveling for work as well. The quality of my life and the experiences I am assembling is something that I will never forget.

Lastly, the advice in getting/trying to get a job in Europe would be patience and persistence. There are many facets to companies that English speakers can adapt too. Trust me, it is a needed language and it helps if you have two, but English is a language used worldwide. A couple other factors to help in applying is your work ethic, personality, ability to be independent, and a love for being abroad and working for a company abroad. Look for international companies, because these are companies that can help build your repertoire as well as networks. The most important thing to know is... be you!

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