Hired from the Hilltop

A Blog by Career and Professional Development at St. Edward's University

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Can Study Abroad Help You Find a Job?

R Butler

Randi Butler, ’08, ’14- Alum

Can Study Abroad Help You Find a Job? 

By Randi Butler

When I was an undergrad at St. Edward’s, I ended up spending my junior year abroad in Germany. I didn’t initially plan on doing it. I’m a first-generation college student and when I got to the hilltop I had no idea what I was doing, had never heard of study abroad, and had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. However, after nearly two years of encouragement from the late Dr. Harald Becker, my German professor, I gathered the courage to apply for a program at Universität Bonn. I couldn’t use any of the financial aid that I would have used at St. Edward’s though, so my financial aid advisor suggested I apply for the Gilman International Scholarship to help fund my year abroad.

The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and aims to diversify the types of students who study and intern abroad. First-generation college students are an underrepresented group in education abroad, so I was just the type of student the scholarship was looking to support. I received the scholarship and it paid for the majority of my program tuition.

Randi in HeidelbergHBFAs an English Literature major, spending a year in Germany was a little unusual. I think, though, that’s an important factor to look for when choosing where to study abroad. Common advice is that studying abroad will look great on your resume. That’s true, to a point. But what will really make you stand out? Spending a semester in Spain, like 800 other students, or going someplace more nontraditional like Uruguay or India? I think the first step in ensuring that your study abroad experience helps you stand out during the job search is to go somewhere most other college students aren’t going. I’m always asked in interviews why I went to Germany to study English Literature; its a great lead in for me to talk about my abilities and background. Also, if you can do a career oriented internship abroad, this is a great way to get applicable skills and experience that you can draw upon when marketing yourself to an employer.

My career plans have changed multiple times since I first arrived on campus at St. Edward’s back in 2004. My study abroad experience influenced me in many ways, some of which I hadn’t even realized until recently. I’ve gone on to earn two Masters degrees, and as a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship I was able to serve as an Alumni Ambassador for the program in 2013. I now work at the Institute of International Education as an Institutional Relations and Outreach Officer for the Gilman Scholarship.

Graduation

Studying or interning abroad can lead you to places you never imagined, both in the immediate- in the country you travel to – and also in the long term. It may not seem like something that’s applicable to your 10 year career plan, but it really can be.

Randi Butler graduated from St. Edward’s University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In addition, she attained a Master of Arts from Texas State University in English Literature in 2010 and a Master of Arts in College Student Development from St. Edward’s University in 2014.

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