Using Study Abroad Experiences after the Experience

by Sandi Ohman

Brazil … Berlin … Istanbul …  London … Luxembourg … Madrid … Paris … Sienna…

ERAU Study AbroadSounds exciting – learning in a new environment, seeing sites you’ve only researched on the internet, and making new friends!  The Study Abroad experience is part of many students’ college experiences.  There is a lot of excitement leading up to the experience, and most students are still excited once they are home.  However, the dilemma can be how to use this experience for professional development or for the benefit of the job search once the student is back in the country.

Students will typically take classes while they are abroad, so they will have some tangible education, knowledge and/or skills that can more easily be demonstrated on a resume.  It is the broader, intangible knowledge and skills that are harder to demonstrate.  Some of the intangibles learned and experienced from a Study Abroad opportunity are:

  • Exposure to working in an international environment
  • Experiencing international cultures
  • Learning a different language
  • Learning in a different language
  • Network of international contacts & friends
  • Problem-solving skills in challenging situations

Other ways that a Study Abroad experience can be beneficial after the experience is over include:

Work Experience – A variety of departments on campus will employ students to work in their offices.  Experience having lived and/or studied abroad can be desirable since there are bound to be international students that visit those departments.  Some specific departments that have an international connection are: International Admissions, Study Abroad, Language Skills/Language Institute, Campus Visit, International Student Office, Housing, Diversity, and Career Services

Graduate School – International experience can help with admission to graduate schools in the U.S. and Abroad.

Scholarships – Scholarships exist that allow undergraduate students that have studied abroad and want to return to pursue graduate studies.

Job Search – International experience and educational study is recognized by companies with a global presence.

Additionally, Study Abroad experience can enhance your resume.  This experience can be incorporated in a resume in a few different ways.

Summary/Objective Statement – This is typically where the writer will share with the resume recipient the purpose of that resume.  Sometimes this can be a one sentence objective statement, and other times, a couple of sentences including skills offered to the company or position are more effective.  Skills that can be mentioned here are language skills, working with different cultures, adaptability/flexibility, working in challenging situations, problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Education – Study Abroad experience can be mentioned on the resume in the Education section as a subsection under the college/university they completed the experience with or as a separate educational experience.  Mentioning the classes or course of study completed while on Study Abroad could be done here as well.

Project Experience – Depending on the educational accomplishments, list project experiences (group or individual) and highlight them in this specific section.

Activities – As a resume becomes full with relevant experience, i.e. research and internship experiences, the study abroad experience might not be so prominent on the resume.  The activities section can be a place to move Study Abroad experiences to, allowing for more room higher on the resume for more relevant experiences.

Take note that resumes should be customized, depending on the positions being applied to, by highlighting experience that demonstrates a good fit for the company and the position.

Experience living abroad has become an experience that many employers value.  Companies that have a global presence appreciate international experience, since they have international customers and opportunities arise within the company to work and travel abroad representing the company.  Government agencies have indicated their interest in candidates that have worked, lived or studied abroad, especially if the agency has any connection to homeland security, i.e. CIA or Department of State.  Some graduates have found an unexpected career from their time studying abroad: teaching English as a second language, for example.

International experiences are definitely valuable opportunities – they broaden the perspective of the student at the time, but this experience can also give the intern or full-time candidate an extra point to market to an employer.  That is a definite synergistic bonus!

Sandi Ohman is the Senior Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She has been with the university for over 9 years and has advised students in most all degree areas while in Career Services.  Sandi brings additional experience having worked in the finance industry for over 6 years in her previous career.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida. 

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Alumni Career Spotlight: Gino LeDonne

Gino LeDonne

Gino LeDonne, WW 2010

Gino LeDonne grew up in Port Orange, FL and began flying at the age of 14. He was given free lessons from a retired Army pilot who owned a Cessna 172. In exchange for yard maintenance and basic mechanics on the C-172, Gino was given free lessons up to his private pilot certificate. He then began working on his degree at ERAU while taking flying lessons at the Comair Aviation Academy, beginning with his Instrument Rating all the way to Certified Flight Instructor.

Gino began flight instructing and attending the Embry-Riddle Worldwide campus in Orlando at the age of 19. Shortly after he turned 21, Gino was offered a position as First Officer with the now defunct Comair Airlines. He flew as a First Officer on both the Embraer 120 and Canadair Regional Jet. After obtaining the several thousand hours of jet time, Gino upgraded to Captain on the CRJ at the age of 24.

He began to realize that the schedule that came with full-time line flying, in addition to a commute to New York, was not agreeing with his desired quality of life. After much deliberation and finishing his degree in Professional Aeronautics, he decided to focus on a major job search. This search eventually led to his current position as an Airbus A320 Instructor Pilot with JetBlue Airways in Orlando, FL. He has worked for JetBlue since 2010 and currently resides in Daytona Beach, FL.

How did you land your position as an Airbus A320 Instructor Pilot with JetBlue Airways?

I landed my position with JetBlue Airways by creating a profile on the company website and an account with LinkedIn. Approximately 3 months after creating a LinkedIn account, I was contacted by a JetBlue Airways recruiter and invited to apply for the position of Airbus A320 Instructor Pilot. I applied for the job and asked for a few recommendation letters; with a bit of luck I was interviewed within three weeks. A week later, I was offered the job via phone contact and email.

What does your role as a Airbus A320 Instructor Pilot entail?

My role of A320 Instructor Pilot entails training new and recurrent pilots to the standards of the company/FAA. We are required to teach ground school classes, as well as simulator events. A full time instructor may also fly line trips 2 days per month, so it is really the best of both worlds.

What three traits or skills have made you most successful in your career?

Three skills that have made me successful in my career would be: attention to detail, a humble attitude, and persistence. These three traits have allowed me to prevail, regardless of any setback that may have occurred along the way.

Do you have any advice for pilots looking to make a career change?

My advice to pilots looking for a career change would be to branch out and use every available resource. I received wonderful guidance via ERAU Career Services. I also was determined to get outside of my “comfort zone” to gain experience with such things as resume building, interviewing, and communicating with non-aviation employers. Ultimately, I was lucky enough to stay within my career field and obtain employment more conducive to my desired lifestyle.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Career Services Office wants to send you our warmest wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

This year, as always, we are thankful for all of our co-op/internship and alumni blog contributors and for all of our future contributors who are waiting to share their stories.  We are thankful to all the employers who have provided advice, shared information on their companies and wrote articles for us.  We are thankful for our guest contributors and their insights. We especially thankful for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, as it brings everyone together to share in our endeavors and life-pursuits.

Co-op/Intern Spotlight: Matthew Vaughan

Matthew Vaughan, ERAU, Applied Meteorology

Matthew Vaughan, Senior, Applied Meteorology

Matthew Vaughan, a senior in the Applied Meteorology program at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus, grew up in the hills of Western Massachusetts in the small town of Dalton. Since preschool, Matt has had a strong interest in flying and weather, so he planned to become a professional pilot when he grew up. He attended Mt. Greylock High School, playing varsity soccer and tennis. Matthew was an active Mt. Greylock student; serving on the Student council, representing Greylock at Massachusetts Boys’ State, and delivering the commencement address  at his graduation ceremony were among his activities. Induction into the NHS and recognition as an AP Scholar with Distinction status rounded out Matt’s academic success before heading to Embry-Riddle.

At Embry-Riddle, Matthew continues to work hard on his academics. As a member of the university Honors Program, Matthew has the opportunity to work one-on-one with professors pursuing various research topics in meteorology and recently completed an internship with the NOAA National Severe Storm Lab. As president of both Chi Epsilon Pi meteorology honor society and the ERAU chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Matt remains active on campus. In his spare time, he enjoys playing sports including tennis and archery, volunteering at the local HospiceCare, and reading. Matthew plans on going to graduate school for meteorology and hopes to stay in academia as a professor.

What was the application and interview process like for your NOAA internship?

Applying for the NOAA Hollings Scholarship Program was fairly straight-forward. The application was available online under NOAA’s Office of Education page. Eligibility requirements consisted of maintaining a 3.0 GPA, having U.S. citizenship, and majoring in a NOAA-related science field. The application called for 2 letters of recommendation, a resume, leadership experience, extracurricular activities, various honors and awards, and 2 essays. The essay topics concerned my career interests and how my academic pursuits aided NOAA and its mission. I sent in my application to be considered among the approximately 900 applications NOAA received each year, and fortunately, I was one of the 104 scholars to be selected.

After being selected as a scholar and attending the week-long orientation program in D.C., I was given a list of potential research topics at various NOAA facilities across the country. The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) had some interesting experiments going on at the time, so I sent a resume and a letter of interest to a NOAA scientist there. Two other Hollings scholars and I were selected to intern at NSSL over the summer with each of us working under our own NOAA mentors. I travelled to NSSL over winter break for a site visit and a final interview with my mentors.

How did this experience help solidify your future career aspirations?

My experience at NSSL gave me an introduction to all the NOAA does to serve this country. Also, having NSSL co-located with the University of Oklahoma gave me an insider’s view of what it is like to work as a scientist and professor at one of the world’s most prestigious meteorology research facilities.

My research was an extension of what my NOAA mentors were working on at the time. We were attempting to improve tornado warning lead times by modeling a tornadic supercell within a high resolution computer model using geostationary satellite and local radar data. The scientists charged me to write computer programs and scripts to analyze the model output and determine how effective the simulation was at predicting the location, path, and strength of the storm. I wrote up my findings into a manuscript and am currently trying to publish the paper in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal. Being on the forefront of tornado research was exhilarating and has sparked an interest in research that I didn’t have previously.

“Research” was a frightening term before this past summer. It was a word that conjured up images of staying up reading technical articles all night and spending countless hours writing scientific papers. However, after being exposed to real research, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, I’m dead-set on going to graduate school and pursuing a Ph.D. in meteorology. I enjoyed the atmosphere at NSSL and OU, and I will attempt to find employment as either a government researcher or a university professor after I’m done with graduate school.

What was the most beneficial part of the internship?

Being at the National Severe Storms Lab was the most beneficial part of the scholarship program. Overhearing the office banter and discussions between the NOAA scientists there was incredible. The amount of information I gained simply by listening to the scientists was like an additional semester of 400-level courses. On the first day of work, a federal meteorologist from the Storm Prediction Center invited me to go storm-chasing with him that afternoon. Those few hours in his hail-dented Civic easily doubled my knowledge of thunderstorm structure and dynamics.

Also, writing a publishable article for a scientific journal was an invaluable experience for me. Not only did I learn new techniques in technical report writing, but I gained a significant amount of confidence from completing the manuscript. Writing long scientific articles and theses doesn’t seem like such a daunting task anymore. As a result, I’m greatly anticipating my time at graduate school and continuing my research.

 What advice do you have for other students searching for an internship?

The best advice I could give to my fellow students is to talk with your professors. I was a regular in my professors’ offices even as a freshman and sophomore. Ask about their academic careers and research interests outside of the specific course they teach. The professors here at ERAU are a cornucopia of information and can provide insights into the industry that textbooks can’t.

Lastly, increasing your skills as a public servant is an important part of your collegiate experience. Any government worker is, in essence, a public servant, and NOAA’s mission is all about serving the U.S. public. There was a strong sense of service among the employees I met when I visited NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, MD. Showing that you are a strong contributor to your community will make a profound impact on how a potential employer will view your resume, whether you are working to serve the public or a company.

Expo Success Story: Garrett Krosse

by Garrett Krosse

Garrett Krasse, Aeronautics, PR CampusThroughout my flying career, I always thought of where I would end up working. What were the stages and different jobs I would have through my life that involved flying? Would it be cargo? Charter? Airline? Studying Canadian Geese migration patterns? There were endless options, and getting there to those options all depended on knowing the right people and standing out above the rest.

Over the summer of 2012, I spoke with Michael Gregory in the Career Services Office at the Prescott campus about possible internships for either the next year or next summer. The internship that stuck out in my mind was a flying-based internship in Burbank, California, for the cargo feeder Ameriflight LLC. It sounded too good to be true. From when I first started flying, I always dreamed and thought about Ameriflight…night-time, cargo, single pilot IFR, an exciting challenge and an impressive looking job for other airlines. So I applied, threw them a copy of my résumé and all the other necessary paperwork with Career Services, and then went on to enjoy the rest of my summer.

When I returned to Prescott in the Fall, I met with Michael Gregory and was informed that Ameriflight liked what they saw with my résumé and additional information provided. I was then informed that I would have a chance to speak with the people of Ameriflight when they visited the Prescott campus for the Industry/Career Expo. When the time came, Michael introduced me to the crew at Ameriflight. Just a chance to chat with them was perfect; I was able to ask them questions about working for them, what the internship would entail and the culture of the company. They asked me questions as well. I gave them a business card and was told they would ask for a phone interview soon.

The phone interview was a great success; they asked me the normal interview-type questions, and I continued to ask some more basic questions about the internship process. Ameriflight said they would let me know in the next two weeks about my status of being hired for the job. Then the email came. I was ecstatic. I could not even believe it. I was to be spending my Spring semester in Burbank, California, flying the Beech 1900 and learning the inner workings of the cargo feeder world. I still am unable to wrap my head around that fact that I have this incredible internship, and I know that I would have never gotten here without the help of Michael Gregory or the Career Services Office. I owe the foundations of my career to that man and that office.

Garrett Krosse is from the San Francisco Bay area. He is majoring in Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

Gettin’ Back in the Saddle: Dealing with Rejection

by Brian Carhide

Rejected – we have all been there or will be at some point in our lives. Whether it’s being rejected after asking someone on a date or a blow to your self-esteem when you receive the call – “Thank you for interviewing, but at this time we are pursuing another candidate.” So what should you do, and how should you handle the situation? Move on, get over it and figure out how to do it better!

I’m sure there is more prudent and diplomatic advice for dealing with rejection (Google it), but let’s be real. It’s frustrating, and no one likes to fail. However, it’s a fact of life; you are not going to be a good fit for every company with which you interview. So my advice, however you need to deal with it, is to get beyond the frustration and feelings of worthlessness. If it involves screaming, yelling, and the use of profanities, do it (please, out-of-earshot of anyone, especially children). My personal favorite, go home and hit the punching bag. Not only does it relieve the frustration and stress, but it’s a great workout. If you are the type that needs to emotionally vent by bawling your eyes out, by all means, have at it.

Now that the first few steps are complete, heed the old cliché, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the saddle.”  Especially for your next interview or employer interaction, you must let go of all your previous emotions and focus on the future.  In my opinion, if you are emotionally carrying any animosity, anger, or frustrations from the previous rejection, it may be expressed in your attitude, from how you answer questions to your body language. It may even be subconsciously expressed, and an experienced interviewer could possibly pick-up on it. It’s a known fact; recruiters constantly enforce that having a positive attitude is vitally important to interview success.

Another side effect of rejection and the lack of response from potential employers is low morale. Many times you may lose your motivation, and the longer you are out of the workplace, the more challenging it can be to find a job. As a career advisor, this is what I hear many times: “I have submitted 100 resumes to 100 different companies and haven’t received any responses” (in a very frustrated and disgusted tone). When I hear this frustration, I have to wonder why a new strategy or approach has not been used.  If a football team were to run the same play 100 times, how much success are they going to have? Not much, so change your game plan!

Changing your plan of attack for the job search, interviewing technique, etc. will not only increase your chances of success, but it will break up the monotony of doing the same thing over and over again, with no results, while job hunting. If you are wondering how to change the game plan, visit the Embry-Riddle Career Services website for a wealth of information and conduct a self-evaluation of what you are actually doing for your search and what specific results are achieved through each action. When something does not get results, find a way to tweak the approach or try something completely new.  Stay positive, stay motivated, and stay focused on success.  You are the only person that can implement your game plan for job search success.

Brian Carhide has more than 20 years of professional aviation experience. He spent many years as a professional pilot, including experience as a charter and airline pilot. Recently, he has been a leader in guiding young aviators in higher education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.   

Co-op/Intern Spotlight: Jake Sleyster

Jake Sleyster, Senior, Aerospace Engineering

Jake Sleyster is an Aerospace Engineering senior at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott, AZ campus. During the past two summers, Jake has worked as an Engineering Intern at Tamarack Aerospace in Sandpoint, ID, completing numerous projects and gaining experience that will benefit him greatly when he graduates this coming May. Jake works in the Embry-Riddle Admissions department as an Admissions Representative and Senior Tour Guide. He is also a member of Sigma Chi and captain of the Embry-Riddle Lacrosse team/club.

What kind of work did you do as an Engineering Intern at Tamarack Aerospace?

Tamarack is a small company, so I did a lot of everything, from design of aircraft accessories, reverse engineering of a throttle knob, test equipment, composite wet layups, and assembly of tips to wings taking into account deflection, riveting and wrote reports that were submitted to the FAA. I worked with two DERS on design certifications.

Did you work on the new Atlas program?

A little bit, but I’m under NDA, which is non-disclosure agreement. Take a look at the recent press releases on the Cirrus.

What was it like working at a small company? 

It’s like a family; we worked six days a week of long hours. Being at the airport, we watched planes land, and there was a fly-in of experimental planes at the airport. There was an experimental plane that landed belly down with no landing gear, so we got in a taco truck with our fire extinguishers. When we got there, the A&P told us we needed to get it on its wheels, so about 10 of us lifted it up, and got the gear extended.

What skills came in handy and what skills did you develop?

Knowing how to write reports, shop skills, CAD, and electrical engineering, in addition to my core aerospace courses.

How did you land the internship, and how did you navigate the process?

It’s in my hometown. The owner was my lacrosse coach in high school, and he wrote my recommendation to get into ERAU. Networking is key.

Do you think it was important to do an internship?

Yes. It taught me what it’s like in the aviation world, aircraft components, concepts that classes alone can’t teach you. At the Career Expo, employers seemed more interested in me and my experiences than some other students. I think they spent more time talking to me than they would have if I didn’t have internship experience.

What did you do while on your second summer there?

Being the senior intern was cool. I reviewed the work of newly graduated mechanical engineers and worked alongside high-level engineers.

Did you gain any knowledge that will be useful to you back at school?

Understanding composites and strain gauges helped me with S&I class and Materials. Also, actually seeing how and why we do things is very important.

You got to represent Tamarack at AOPA. Tell us about that.

It was another great opportunity to talk about Tamarack to small and large companies, plus I got to experience an AOPA Aviation Summit – the aviation vibe is even stronger there than on campus.

Expo Success Story: Morgan Latten

by Morgan Latten

As a freshman, the idea of interacting with employers at the Career Expo was extremely intimidating because I feared that with my lack of knowledge and experience I would only embarrass myself. I decided that I would take the easy way out by waiting a few years until I was more comfortable and felt that I was desirable enough to be hired as an intern. I ended up applying to be a Career Expo Ambassador through Student Employment because it was the perfect cure for my lack of confidence; the position would allow me to interact with the employers, by assisting in their presentations and helping them out during the day of the Expo, without the pressure of having to market myself. After being notified that I got the position, I learned about, and began utilizing, the resources that Career Services offers to improve students’ skills for pursuing internships and full-time positions.

During the Career Expo, I facilitated Information Sessions for several companies. After a particular Session, the employers told me that I had made a wonderful impression on them, and they gave me their contact information; while their company was focused primarily on business, another part of the company was more engineering-based. Surprised that in that short amount of time I was able to attract the attention of the employers, I immediately understood the importance of not underestimating myself.

This year, as a sophomore, I attended the Career Expo with the confidence I’d built up as a result of the Ambassador position. I wasn’t necessarily looking to participate in any internships; my goal was simply to speak with a few employers, explore different options and then to pursue a specific opportunity in my junior year. As I was leaving, the employers that I’d made contact with last year remembered me by name and requested my contact information. I handed them my résumé, with the intentions of providing them with the information they had requested, and they ended up placing it in the pool for interviews the following day. To my surprise, I received a phone call from the engineering-based division of the company requesting an interview; several weeks later, I was notified that I had received a six-month internship position. Though I did not have a perfect GPA, amazing project experience, or extensive leadership positions, I was recommended by the employers that I’d met a year prior, and now I have a wonderful opportunity to expand my knowledge and gain pivotal hands-on experience.

Morgan Latten is a sophomore in the Engineering Physics program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach campus. She works on campus as a tutor and technical director in the Writing Center.

The Internet is Your Friend

by Kristy Amburgey

I don’t know about you, but I spend time researching things online before making decisions.  Want to find the best communications provider in your city?  Want to buy a reliable vehicle?  Want to ensure you get the best deal on a new pair of shoes?  The Internet is truly your best friend when it comes to tracking down information and researching almost any topic.  Just like I would peruse the Internet before making any major decision, I highly recommend that you thoroughly research the subject of career planning and your job search.  Really, it is a necessity to conduct research on career paths, job descriptions, companies, company expectations, salaries, geographical locations and any other topic that helps you make a career decision.

For your job search, Internet research is a main-stay for your career development and job search.  I am not just talking about searching for jobs; there are so many job search resources and information available that you need to conduct a search for all your job search activities.  Do you want to know about salary information at a specific company?  Check out salary calculators and Glassdoor.com.  Want to find out more information about a company?  Hit up their websites, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, feedback from your online connections and more. Want to learn about the wildest interview questions?  Search for it!

In addition to the multitude of Internet resources on the job search, the Career Services website has a number of useful links available.  From sample job search documents to tips on interviewing, review the content before you engage others, so you can have an advantage: knowledge.  But don’t let this list be the end of your search; go beyond just the website and search for the thousands of websites available.  Research and knowledge is one of the most important tools you can use during your job search, so take charge and learn as much as possible, especially before you approach a person for further clarity and feedback.

Certainly, you can’t dispute the power of people and face-to-face interactions (hey, that is the entire premise of networking, which is the most powerful job search tool), but you should go armed with as much information as possible before you approach your network or fellow knowledge sharers.  This step allows you to ask better, more meaningfully questions, and it allows you to come across as knowledgeable in the subject, all important qualities to showcase while searching for a job.  Do your due diligence on any subject matter to also ensure you can wade through the many different opinions and feedback to develop your own perspective instead of relying on one point of view to base your decision.

The Internet brings a constant flow of information to you in pretty much any format you desire.  This flow of information can be wonderful and vexing all at the same time.  For your career development and job search, you must stay on top of the constant flow of information by using both Internet research and the power of your network to make good, well-thought out decisions about your future.  Use the Internet – it is your friend.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Jonathan L.S. Castillo-Reminick

Jonathan L.S. Castillo-Reminick, DB 2009

Jonathan L.S. Castillo-Reminick graduated in 2009 with his Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering.  While a student at ERAU, Jonathan had a strong interest in working and living abroad.  After completing a self-created internship with MTU Aero Engines in Munich, Germany, he helped establish an engineering internship recruiting relationship between MTU and ERAU that continues today.  From his experience at MTU Aero Engines, he built a network of contacts that helped him to find career opportunities living and working abroad after graduation.

Tell us about your current position and how you obtained this opportunity.

I currently work as a Stress and Aerodynamics Engineer at Assystem Germany GmbH in Munich. They are an engineering subcontractor based in France (the name translating to “Ace System”), and the aerospace division in which I now work used to be subsidiary of MTU Aero Engines but became a part of Assystem in 2011.

After finishing my degree at ERAU, I arranged an internship at MTU Aero Engines in their Turbine Aerodynamics department. Because I had used a number of their published research papers in my Detail Design project, I was familiar with many of the technologies they were developing. Following that internship, I continued to work as a Student Employee, first directly at MTU, then as an External Employee through Assystem. After the project with MTU ended, I started working on Stress Analysis projects for Rolls-Royce Germany. There were numerous complications in writing my contracts along the way because of my visa status, but thanks to very helpful and flexible supervisors and the German immigration authorities, I’m now well on my way to earning residency.

How did your overseas internship prepare you for your current position?

My very first internship was during my studies at MTU. This contributed to opening up future opportunities in two critical ways: becoming intimately familiar with jet engines and learning German. My first internship was on the production floor, so English was a rarity, as was textbook German, because most spoke the strong Bavarian dialect. Thus I was forced to start speaking quickly. On a technical level, working on the production floor gave me insight into parts of the engine and their different manufacturing methods. Of course having already worked for the company, albeit in an unrelated position, was probably beneficial too.

Overseas positions require a Curriculum Vitae. Is there anything in particular students should highlight on this document?

CVs, in my experience, vary from country to country. The first thing to remember is to leave out the “Objective” line as seen on U.S. resumes. Education and relevant work experience should be on the front page–and yes–two pages is perfectly normal, even for entry-level applicants. When applying internationally, remember that education systems differ across the globe, so make sure you communicate how many years your degree takes and what the grades mean. For example: you might have a 3.8, but a 4.0 is failing in Germany!! Let them know 4.0 is the best attainable grade.

Also, don’t forget the meaning of “Curriculum Vitae”–Latin for “the course of life.” List relevant and also interesting things you have done or accomplished in life, such as living in different places, learning languages, hobbies, etc. Stays (not just vacations) abroad are especially seen in high regard, as is community service.

What were some of the challenges you faced moving outside the U.S. and adapting to your new position?

The most critical part of working overseas is also the most basic element: moving. Unless you plan on working within a few flying or driving hours of home or somewhere familiar, the act of uprooting your life can be hard and traumatic–not just for you, but also for loved ones and friends. Because I come from an international family, this was not a problem for me personally, but I have many friends for whom it was. I have seen how this is the single most challenging part of moving. Some made the move and stayed, some left after a year or two, and some never made it over once they realized the implications it would have. Consider this deeply and honestly.

Aside from that, there are the usual issues of the different stages of culture shock that people go through: language barriers, eating differently, and different perspectives on the world. I was confronted with all sorts of new things that are normal in Germany, but at best eccentric in the U.S. Some of it may sound ridiculous at first, but the most important thing is to keep an open mind and never stop asking “why?” – Why are so many Germans sporty? Why are they so concerned about sustainability when they’re already the most efficient country on the planet? Why are they so sensitive about their Nazi past? Why are they such big fans of U.S. culture but not of our politics?

Which brings me to the third most important part of living in a different culture: don’t be shy about your own! For example, don’t let people get you down about “bad American beer.” There are many wonderful beers in the U.S.  As an American, I have had to deal with all sorts of criticism from people that are dissatisfied with our foreign policy. Make it clear that they have a right to their opinion but that you don’t single handedly run the country. Every country has blemishes in its past, so don’t be afraid to stand up for the U.S.A.!

What advice do you have for students wanting to work/live abroad?

Looking  for work overseas is very similar to looking for work in the States. Research companies well and write directed and purposeful applications. Establish contact with someone at the company and follow up on that. Networks that are built internationally are very useful, because you never know who knows who and who might be important to you later. As you may have noticed, a healthy career usually needs a good deal of Vitamin C–Connections. Don’t know anyone at a company? Not a problem, contact their HR, see if they’re holding a seminar at a university, read up on their accomplishments and see if you catch a name.

Universities abroad also hold career fairs just like at ERAU, and nothing stops you from browsing websites. Find the website of a career fair in the country you’re interested in and see which companies operate there–you might be surprised! As English is the working language around the world and international students are everywhere, almost every site is also in English.

Back at home, be sure to turn over every rock, because you never know where a golden opportunity lies. Use all of the resources you have!

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