International travel center helps students find jobs abroad

Elizabeth Dunbar

When Martha Johnson spent time in Ireland, she didn’t meet anyone who hadn’t worked, studied or traveled abroad.

“It’s not as much a part of our student culture,” said Johnson, director of the International Service and Travel Center.

The center held sessions about different aspects of working abroad this week to encourage students to seek new cultural experiences.

Johnson said thousands of students come to the United States from other countries to work, but not enough students from the United States work abroad.

“We don’t take advantage of it,” Johnson said.

Students with an interest in working abroad filled the center’s office Wednesday afternoon to find out about specific programs that facilitate the process of working in another country.

One of the most popular programs is BUNAC, which offers opportunities in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. BUNAC supplies students with a work visa and holds orientation sessions.

Katherine Agan, a second-year global studies student, said she attended the information session because she wants to work in England after she studies there this spring.

“If I stayed longer I could be a part of the community,” said Agan, who has already traveled to Europe.

“It’s good to go while you’re young because you have no ties,” she said.

Johnson said most of the work programs are in countries that have reasonably strong economies, but she encouraged students to research other possibilities, such as teaching English or volunteering, adding that many programs require students to find their own jobs and housing.

Johnson worked in a student and travel education agency in Ireland and told students attending the session that a lot of summer jobs focus on tourism.

Johnson said though general work is easier to find, students can do research beforehand to find jobs that relate to their studies.

Working abroad is also a good way for students who are more limited financially, she said.

Sophomore Terra Lindquist said she wants to go to Latin America but hasn’t decided what kind of work or study program would fit best into her study of agricultural aspects of biology.

“I think it’s becoming more important to be aware of what’s going on in other countries, especially countries you have economic ties or trade agreements with,” Lindquist said.

Johnson said working in another country is distinct from studying and advocates doing both.

“(Working abroad) challenges you to adapt in order to be successful in your job,” Johnson said. “Studying abroad made me fall in love with being abroad, but working has had the biggest impact on my life.”

Elizabeth Dunbar covers international affairs and welcomes comments at [email protected]