Friday Favorites – Volunteering & Study Abroad

If I told you that volunteering, joining certain non-profit organizations or studying or working abroad could help you stand out to employers, would you be surprised? Probably not.

Having experience volunteering, studying abroad or working with special organizations can give you an advantage against other candidates. Plus, it will help you learn new skills, it will expose you to a whole new field, with a whole new group of people, and you may possibly be put in a leadership position, which is always attractive to employers.

VISIONS Service Adventures, British Virgin Islands, community service summer programs for high school students

Here are five ways you can get involved on your campus, in your community and even internationally, and a few resources related to them.

Community Service/Organizations on Campus

If you’re looking to volunteer on or near campus, there are multiple places you can volunteer at, such as the Center for Students with Disabilities and at elementary schools in Whitewater. Tutoring other students or reading to children at the Children’s Center on campus are easy and fun ways to volunteer at UW-W.

Getting involved in Greek life is also a great way to volunteer on campus, as they contributed to 83% of the community service completed in the 2011 school year and continue to do many community service and philanthropy projects throughout the year.

Local Organizations

As for local organizations, meaning within Wisconsin, there are tons of organizations and programs you can volunteer with, from working with animals at the Humane Society, to working with underprivledged children for City Year.

National Organizations

Some students still want to volunteer, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of traveling overseas and dealing with a different culture. There are a few national organizations, which work specifically within the United States.

International Organizations

For some students, they might have caught the travel bug, they might want to take a year off after graduation, or just feel that volunteering internationally is their calling. There are various international organizations that students can work with, and programs can last for one week to three years.

Study Abroad

Studying abroad is one way to set you apart from the rest of the crowd. Even some corporate recruiters highly value students who have studied abroad. If UW-Whitewater’s Center for Global Education doesn’t have the right program, university or location you want to study at, there are multiple international organizations you can work with as well, and here is a list of a few of them.

Hopefully these resources will help you look for opportunities to volunteer with, because volunteering is a really irreplacable experience you can have, either while, during, or after college.

Have I missed any important businesses or organizations? Where have you volunteered at? I would love to hear your stories and input!

Photo by Visions Service Adventures.

Where Will Your Career Take You? Tips for Preparation & Common Careers Abroad

Earlier this year we shared information about where the job search may take you. Traveling outside of Wisconsin after graduation is a huge step and it is even more significant when you desire to pursue an international career.

Side of the VE Monument

Traveling abroad has become increasingly popular. Every year, the U.S. has nearly 300,000 students study abroad in addition to the cultivation of unique programs such as Semester at Sea. Traveling abroad provides several benefits such as learning a foreign language and developing a global perspective. Now on to the big question: what happens when you want to work abroad?

Here are some tips on preparing for a career abroad and some common international careers.

 Documentation needs (Passport, Visa, and Work permit)

  • While passports may be applied for through the U.S. Department of State, obtaining work visas and work permits are a bit more challenging. Many countries will require that you have a job offer prior to obtaining a work visa or work permit. Additionally, some countries will require a special type of visa related to work (i.e. business visa, work visa) and a work permit. Going Global, a career resource located on Hawk Jobs, provides excellent information on work visas and work permits.

Getting a Job

  • Preparation: According to the Institute for International Education of Students, you are more likely to secure a job abroad after completing an international internship. In addition to international internships, working domestically, gaining proficiency in a second language, and building a global network are other ways to prepare for an international career.
  • Before or After: Make the decision as to whether you want to have a job prior to traveling abroad or after you have settled abroad. There will be challenges either way, but there are useful strategies for each situation.
  • Study your Country: Different countries have their own unique benefits and challenges. Make sure to gather information about the economy and top companies of the countries you are considering.
  • Build a Global Network: Take some time to get to know individuals from different countries in your field of interest. Try to find out more information about how they have prepared for and obtained their job. This is always easier when you have had some previous travel abroad experience. In any case, using LinkedIn can be a useful tool as well.

Common Careers Abroad

  • Government and International Relations: This includes Foreign Affairs, Government Intelligence, and work with the United Nations.
  • Domestic to International: I once worked with a student seeking marketing opportunities in Israel. After some searching, we found some companies and job postings. Many positions available in America will also be available abroad.
  • Teaching English: We shared some information on teaching abroad earlier in the year.
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO): If you have a passion for issues that span internationally, such as poverty, women’s rights, or community development, then you may want to consider NGO’s with international opportunities.
  • Miscellaneous: Other common careers abroad range from agriculture (WWOOFing) to working as an Au Pair.

You never know where your career will take you! Stop by Career & Leadership Development to find more information about working abroad.

Photo by Ben Demey.

Friday Favorites – 5 Interview Tips

Now that you’ve scored an interview and have plenty of tips on what to wear, your next step is to sell yourself in that job interview! How do you set yourself apart from the rest of those being interviewed? Our five Friday Favorite tips will help you. The tips reflect the Interview Tip of the Day tweets (if you’re not following us on Twitter… you should be!)

Tip One:

Be yourself! One way to shine is to let your personality show though.

Owly Images

Tip Two:

Your personal brand is ‘A unique message that gives the other party an idea of who you are, what you bring to the table in terms of your skills and experience, why you are unique, and why what you have is of value to them.’ (TheSavvyIntern)

This is the part where you need to sell yourself and make a good impression on the interviewer. Be confident, charming and know your personal brand up and down and inside out. Never question who you are and what you could bring to the company you want to work for, and your interviewer will notice.

Tip Three:

This infographic by Mashable gives some great tips on how to protect your online reputation. Interviewers may Google you or take a look at your Facebook page, and it’s very important to be smart about what you do online and what you post or tweet.

Tip Four:

Remember your manners.

‘Use of polite terminology should be standard during an interview, but it also reflects well to be equally courteous when addressing receptionists and other office workers.’ states MSN Careers. They also have four more great tips to review before heading into an interview.

Tip Five:

If you’ve studied abroad or been on a travel study, now is the time to talk about it! But don’t talk about how you disliked your roommates or about a funny story about public transportation. Discuss your interactions with other international students and locals, what problems arised and how you solved them, how you managed your time and how that experience benefited you. For more tips on how to market your study abroad experience, check out this article from a student’s point of view.

Hopefully these five tips can help you market your personal brand and set you apart from the rest. If you have any interview tips, I’d love to hear them! You can e-mail me at

Unpacking Your Study Abroad Experience

Students who study abroad frequently describe their experience as life-changing. The opportunity to live in and learn from another culture, as well as see and experience another part of the world, provides the participant with a great reason to reflect upon their life, their culture, and their identity.

The experience demands an investment of physical and psychological energy which will test and enhance the participant’s communication skills, ability to solve problems, adapt to change and be flexible. And, not least of all, there’s a good deal of confidence to be gained by successfully negotiating the challenges inherent in living in another country.

Paris_10_2006_ 053

These mindsets and skills are highly transferable and will help students both obtain and succeed in their careers. What follows are a few tips that may help employers understand the value of your study abroad experience as you conduct your job search.

  • First, don’t assume that your interviewer understands the value of your study abroad experience. Chances are most recruiters and hiring managers haven’t studied abroad and may not fully understand the numerous, varied ways that the experience has contributed to your learning and career development. They may view the experience as interesting and fun, but miss the learning implications inherent in the experience. The student will need to “connect the dots” on their resume and in their interviews.
  • Second, many students who participate in study abroad present the experience on paper and in person as “academic tourism.” When asked about their experience during interviews, a common mistake is to talk about how much fun the experience was, or how incredible it was to experience Amsterdam or the Great Wall of China. While true, understand that the interviewer wants to know how your experiences have contributed to the development of skills and competencies they desire. Therefore, it’s better to talk about what you learned as a result of your experience and specifically align what you learned with the skills and competencies that the employer seeks in the ideal applicant for the position for which you’re interviewing. Basically, they want to know how your experience abroad will add value to their organization if you are hired.
  • Lastly, spend some time to reflect upon what it is that you’ve learned as a result of your study abroad experience. What did you learn about the culture of your host country? Did the experience expand your knowledge of your own identity and culture? What skills did you use to adjust and adapt to your host culture? Have your attitudes about your home culture and country changed as a result of the experience? These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself during and after your study abroad experience.

Photo by Ralf Schulze