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Just under a week ago, I was hiking in the Alps after completing my final exams in Europe. To say my summer was good is an understatement- it was by far the best summer of my life. From
living in the Alps to traveling around Europe on the weekends, I was able to cross a multitude of items off of my bucket list. For me, studying abroad was a must-do before graduating college. However, I knew going into this summer that my choice to study abroad meant foregoing an internship and potential job lead before graduation. With this fact in mind, I sought opportunities to make the most out of my study abroad experience.

Once I narrowed down my list of possible programs, I researched scholarship and work-study options for each. Generally speaking, I found scholarships for every study abroad program on my list; however, I didn’t qualify for all of them as some were quite specialized. One that I did qualify for and peaked my interest was the University of New Orleans’ (UNO) Ambassador scholarship. This award is given to 2-3 UGA students each summer through UNO’s Summer School in Innsbruck, Austria. The application itself took a bit of work- essays, letters of recommendation, transcript requests, etc.- but the payoff was incredible. Not only did I receive funding for a substantial portion of the program, but I was able to gain valuable experience as a student leader.

The 2011 UNO and UGA Ambassadors

In total, there were eleven ambassadors from UGA and UNO. We were called upon to assist with activities throughout the summer as needed. We even worked with the program staff to host a jambalaya dinner for students and faculty!  Our biggest job, however, was the production of a weekly newsletter to the over 250 students and faculty involved in the program. I was given the opportunity to implement tactics from my Graphic Communications class to redesign the newsletter template from the previous summer. I also edited and published multiple newsletter articles over the course of the summer. As a Public Relations student, this experience was a valuable addition to my resume and will provide meaningful talking points during future interviews.

So, while studying abroad may be the most fun you have in college, it can warrant career development opportunities as well. Aside from the ambassador program, I experienced a cultural exchange through befriending local Austrians. My time and friendship with them was by far the greatest way to become immersed in the region. Through my understanding of their culture and the cultures of cities we visited, I am more global-minded and feel better prepared to work internationally upon graduation.

While studying abroad is not for everyone I encourage you to consider it at the very least. And if you do decide to go abroad, take advantage of the scholarships and work opportunities available! For more information on the UNO Innsbruck program, check out their website at: http://www.inst.uno.edu/austria/. Also, feel free to comment with any questions regarding the ambassador program!

Downtown Innsbruck, Austria

A lagniappe: The Career Center and Study Abroad Office will partner to host the “Study Abroad Resume Workshop” on Thursday, October 20th at 5:30pm. The seminar will take place in the MLC but the specific room number is TBA. Check the Career Center website for more details!

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