Welcome Back! After returning from your learning abroad experience, not everything may be back to "normal." And that is precisely how it should be. Whether you studied, interned, or researched abroad, your understanding of the world has grown richer, perhaps more complicated. You have developed new knowledge, and possibly new professional or research skill sets. Upon your return to Mount Holyoke (and home, family, and friends), it may be difficult to know exactly how you will integrate your transformed self.
These resources will help you navigate the practical aspects of returning and capitalize on your international experience, at Mount Holyoke, in the community, and as you plan for further studies and careers. In addition, each semester the McCulloch Center sponsors a Welcome Back event for returning students.
- "Connecting International Experience to Campus, Community, and Career" includes resources and tips for re-entry and reverse culture shock, making the most of your remaining time at Mount Holyoke, and more.
- Marketing Your International Experience. Whether you studied, interned, or researched abroad, you developed skills and attitudes that employers value: adaptability, resourcefulness, the ability to communicate across cultural difference, among others. Learn how to call out your experiences in your resume and in an interview.
- Linda Senecal ’09, who studied in Rome for a semester, reflected candidly on her return home when she spoke to returning students at the Welcome Back event in September, 2008
- “What’s Up With Culture: On-Line Cultural Training Resources for Study Abroad” includes an extensive section, with interactive exercises, on processing your cross-cultural experience
- SIT’s “Toolkit for Returning Students” is designed for SIT program participants, but includes a wealth of ideas and resources relevant to any student returning from abroad.
Pursuing Other International Opportunities
Post Graduate Fellowships and Scholarships
Students returning from abroad are often strong candidates for the major national awards for graduate study abroad, such as the Fulbright, Marshall, Rhodes, etc. Some of these awards enable you to study for a degree, others will support short-term study and research. Many national fellowships and scholarships require nomination by Mount Holyoke’s Committee on Fellowships, so the first step is an internal application process. Deadlines are often in September or October. See MHC's National Fellowships Office for details.
The Career Development Center can help you undertake a job search for a position abroad after graduation. Resources include directories listing US companies with offices abroad and foreign companies with offices in the US, resume and cover templates appropriate for many other countries, etc. Competition for the plum positions in the global job market is very stiff, however, and you may need to obtain a graduate degree and/or work your way up in an organization before qualifying for a post abroad.
International Careers in the US or at Home
Remember that there are many ways to pursue an international career within the US or your home country. Globalization means that many businesses and industries deal with people and goods from other countries, so your cross-cultural skills will be an asset to almost any employer. Other careers involve working directly with diverse populations within your country and can be a good way of staying connected with people from other places. Examples include:
- Teaching English as a second language, or teaching another language
- International student advising
- Study abroad advising or administration
- Immigration law
- International admission recruitment
- Fellowship/scholarship administration
- Advocacy/support for immigrant or refugee groups
- Travel writing/publishing
- Tourism/travel industry
- Community international centers (e.g., World Affairs Council)
- NGOs and other international organizations
Many returned students express a strong desire to go back to the country they spent time living and learning in, but perhaps on a different basis. Others want to go somewhere else, sometimes more far-flung and adventurous. While there is almost no way that the same kind of the education abroad experience can be replicated, there are a multitude of ways of ‘returning’ abroad during your undergraduate years, and upon graduation. These include getting an international internship, doing short-term paid work, volunteering, enrolling in language study institutes, or teaching English. If you are interested in pursuing such opportunities, check out the Career Development Center; the McCulloch Center webpage on Developing Your Own International Internship includes resources and advice that are relevant to students seeking undergraduate and post-graduate opportunities. Almost all overseas work requires obtaining a work visa. While it is possible to do a long-distance search for overseas opportunities, utilizing the services of U.S. or foreign agencies, which can assist in helping to obtain a work visa, is usually the best approach.
Here are some Web-links to some of the most well-known agencies and organizations:
- Going Global (an online international career development tool that provides MHC students a database of internship and job opportunities around the world, career related country profiles, and more)
- Lonely Planet's Volunteer: A Traveler's Guide to Making a Difference Around the World
- Global Volunteer Network
- U.S. State Department