How Study Abroad Can Be Beneficial During Internships

My name is Mike and I am a senior at Iowa State double majoring in Management Information Systems and Supply Chain Management. I studied abroad at Swansea University in Swansea, Wales in the United Kingdom during the spring 2013 semester. I was able to travel to 13 total countries while there and gained a lot of knowledge during the trip of a lifetime. Although I lived and went to university in an English speaking country, I travelled to many different countries, many of which spoke languages other than English. Whether it was Wales, Spain, Greece, Germany, or Italy, I gained significant cultural knowledge. At the time I knew this was great, but little did I know it would help me that following summer during my internship at Cargill in the Twin Cities.

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My brother (left), who along with my parents visited me while abroad, and I (right) on the Swansea University campus.

While abroad, I learned how easy it was to use slang or jargon that is well understood in the United States but not understood by people even in the United Kingdom, let alone by people in non-English speaking countries. Also, when speaking English to people whose first language is not, I learned to speak clearly, simply, and gave them time to comprehend what I said so they could form a response. I took four years of Spanish in high school so I could relate when having to comprehend one phrase and say a different phrase back using different languages. These were some rather obvious communication skills thinking back but not until I was in the situation time and time again did I fully understand to what extent I took for granted global communication.

During my internship at Cargill I was fortunate enough to have a project that required communication on an international scale. During the summer, I video/phone conferenced with around 30 international workers in over eight different countries. I had global communication experiences daily and it wasn’t uncommon for me to be emailing someone in Belgium while instant messaging someone in Brazil. Throughout my global communication, I was observed and praised by my supervisor and others who said they could tell my study abroad experience benefited me in those situations. This was great to see positive results to my work from the previous semester’s study abroad experience.

I would highly recommend a study abroad to anyone as it not only is a great experience but can help with life skills even in the workplace. And with business becoming ever more global, the study abroad experience is becoming more popular and sought after by employers.

More information about Business Study Abroad opportunities can be found here.

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