Going Global: Go Abroad Now!

Going Global is a great resource for anyone interested in going abroad to work, intern, study or volunteer.   We currently have an online subscription with them (gain access by visiting our international resources’ page) and their listings are available to Penn students and alumni through PennLink.  Every Monday, Going Global features a piece of advice on their blog to help you get abroad.  This ongoing series is called “Must Do Mondays”  –  a must read if you want to turn your dreams of getting abroad into reality.  Today’s post discusses the importance of building your LinkedIn profile – check it out!

Help Your Network Grow

by Shannon C. Kelly

Here is a great example of how volunteering abroad can expand your network, with some design food for thought thrown in for good measure.  Anthropologie, the more sophisticated sister of Philly-based Urban Outfitters, just opened its first overseas location on Regent Street in London.  What is unique about this store is its living wall.   A living wall, or green wall according to Wikipedia, is a wall covered with vegetation. It can help reduce energy consumption and can be quite aesthetically pleasing (in line with Anthropologie’s eclectic sense of fashion).

Where does volunteering abroad tie in to this?  My supervisor from volunteering in the UK installed the wall.  One day on a break from our duties at the festival, we got into a discussion of green walls and he told me about his upcoming job for Anthropologie.  The conversation allowed me to learn about his career installing these walls and his experiences in the industry.  We have kept in touch and I even saw pictures of the wall before the New York Times posted their article (their picture is below).  As our director, Pat Rose, recently posted, you should never pass an opportunity to learn from someone and build your network.  After all, they could end up in the New York Times…

Anthropologies Living Wall in London
Anthropologie's Living Wall in London

Top Employers for Global Business Undergrads – What Defines a Top Employer?

by David Ross

A recent BusinessWeek article featuring a survey conducted by Universum regarding the Top Employers for Global Business Undergrads is the latest example of another rankings list.  Today our lives are filled with lists of “Best of…” – best colleges, best graduate schools, best employers.  But this latest list of rankings focuses on another topic of great importance – what actually constitutes a top employer?

Any rankings list is based on specific criteria and methodology used to generate a numerical score or outcome that determines “the best.”  Regarding employers, how do we individually determine just who’s the best?  In some way, we all have our own criteria for deciding on where to pursue employment.  It’s not uncommon for these factors to include name recognition, prestige, and culture.  But besides these subjective elements are there other factors important to you?  What about intangible metrics such as collegiality among co-workers, geographic location, work/life flexibility and autonomy over projects?  Do you contemplate other things when deciding what organizations to consider for employment?  I encourage you to think critically about what you really look for in an employer.  There’s nothing like going to work at a place where you feel really connected and greatly enjoy the environment.  No rankings list can truly measure that.

Volunteer Abroad

by Shannon C. Kelly

I would like to dispel a myth for those of you interested in gaining international work experience – it can be easy AND affordable.  How? By volunteering abroad.  There are a TON of programs out there which you can volunteer through – many vary in their fee structure and what is included in the fee, but I promise (cross my heart…stick a needle in my eye) it is possible to find one appropriate for your budget and areas of interest. Idealist.org has a Smörgåsbord of resources to jump start your search.

Why am I willing to potentially stick a needle in my eye? Because I know first-hand it’s possible since I volunteered abroad this past summer.  The whole trip cost me under $2,000 (air fare, spending $, room & board) and I KNOW I could have done it for even less.  I found my particular program through Volunteers for Peace (www.vfp.org) thanks to our annual International Opportunities Fair.  VFP is an international volunteer exchange organization.  They have partners all over the world who help place volunteers at International Voluntary Service projects, also known as international workcamps.

I searched VFP’s directory for programs in the UK because I have always wanted to go. I found an opportunity to volunteer at a festival (Think: event management experience) outside of Bath, England – Monkton Combe in Avon. Which brings up another advantage of volunteering abroad – getting off the beaten tourist path.  I met university students and other young people from all over the world (Turkey, Italy, Poland, Japan, Greece, + more), but I also met fascinating individuals older than me who had great stories and advice to share for my own ambitions.  (Think: networking is not just for when you need a job).

So what’s the catch? When you volunteer abroad, you are not taking a traditional vacation.  You agree to work a certain number of hours in exchange for your room and board (of course specifics vary by program, location, etc).  I worked 6 hours a day and helped run the festival by setting up rooms for workshops, coordinating materials for the attendees and answering questions about specific events (Think: bullet points on a resume).  It’s not all work though. I had free time to attend workshops at the festival (lessons on Brazilian Forró) or to hang out with my new friends from Italy or Greece.  All in all, I gained valuable experience for my resume, extended my network, and got off the beaten path – even learned a new dance I know I would not have otherwise.

Whether you want to teach children, learn a foreign language, rebuild walls, help the environment, steward at a festival – there’s a program for that.  (Think: iPhone’s “there’s an app for that”).  And if you do your homework, you can find one appropriate for your budget.  I did and I can’t wait to volunteer abroad next summer.

I’ll be posting more about volunteering abroad as it relates to gaining work experience. And sharing stories from friends around the world.  If you’d like to share yours, leave a comment!