It’s spring break, and seventeen DePaul students and two staff members are getting ready to board a flight to London. For some of these students, it’ll be their first time traveling outside the U.S. But this isn’t a typical study abroad trip. These students are exploring the possibility of one day working abroad.
Launched in March by EMM’s Career Center, this first career exploration study abroad program introduces undergraduates to opportunities as well as skills needed to work internationally. DePaul alumni working in London were an essential component of the inaugural trip, which centered on visiting different companies to meet them and hear about their experiences living and working abroad.
“We designed this program to help students make real connections with professionals overseas and give them tools to foster cultural adaptability, which you need in order to work in a culture outside your own,” shares Leslie Chamberlain, associate director of Alumni Career Services in the Career Center, who co-facilitated in the trip. “Leveraging our alumni network was one powerful way we were able to achieve this, and what I believe made the experience so successful.”
In addition, the students were required to hold informational interviews with either an alum or another professional in London they found on their own, to gain further insights and build their connections. The absence of a language barrier made London an ideal destination; it allowed for a smoother cultural transition so that students could easily make professional connections with the people they met.
One of the highlights of the trip, which helped facilitate some of these connections, was a networking event coordinated by the Career Center. The event brought together forty-five alumni from across London for an evening of networking with the students and one another. Many of the alumni were surprised to learn that so many of them lived in London, making it an impactful evening of building connections and community.
To create this program, the Career Center partnered with the Study Abroad Office, who managed the application process and logistics for the trip, and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, who sponsored the two course requirements that the Career Center designed as part of the experience.
Students take the first course—UIP 243 Career Center Pathways: International Careers—in the quarter before the trip, as it introduces the process of finding and following through with career opportunities abroad. The course also delves into self-exploration of values, interests and cultural influences that can affect cultural adaptability.
The second course—UIP 244 Uncovering Your Skills (for Working Abroad): a Study Abroad Course–focuses on the transferrable skills needed to pursue careers abroad, and is taken the quarter following the trip.
“Traveling and living abroad is a transformative, life-changing experience,” says Chamberlain, “But what I truly value about this program is how it serves our current students while at the same time fosters alumni engagement. More than that, it hits the three main areas the Career Center uses to empower students: explorations, connections and experiences. The program provides a practical, real-world experience that students can walk away from with tangible connections and a deepened understanding of who they are and how they can contribute to the world-at-large.”
For more information about the Career Center’s programs and services, visit their website