What is your favorite travel memory?
It's hard to say what my all-time favorite travel memory is. However, my favorite travel memory of the past year would have to be a dinner I had with colleagues in Rome.
There was a decadent antipasto plate and a bold red wine involved. The diversity of my companions and our freewheeling conversation reminded me of how small I am in the scope of the world. There's so much more to learn and see and do! I always appreciate those reminders and it's gratifying to work in a position that allows me the opportunity to come across those experiences.
Plus, I was excited to think of what a powerful impact these friends have as teachers and internship supervisors for our students!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current institution?
My career before joining Arcadia was focused on hyper-local efforts. I built communities on campus and partnerships with neighboring schools and non-profit organizations. And I loved it!
However, now I spend mornings on video conferences with colleagues in London or other cities across the Atlantic and I read the reflections of students from universities across the country as they return from our locations around the world.
I'm confronted with the magnificent diversity and vastness of the world on a regular basis. I've always acted locally, but this position has developed my capacity to think globally, and I'm a better person for it.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
My favorite stories from returning students are about their impressions of some of their once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Many students predict they'll have powerful experiences abroad before they go, but that doesn't curb their enthusiasm for getting their minds blown.
I loved the story of an English major whose Arcadia instructor invited her seminar class to an exclusive reading by a famous author at the Keats-Shelley house. The experience introduced her to an intoxicating side of the academic world because she was captivated by the conversation.
She was also exposed to some of Rome's social elite because in the room of 20 people sat her classmates, the British Ambassador, and several famous writers. "Blown away" was how the student described her reaction. I have to say, my reaction was partly envy!
If you could go on any program that your institution offers, which one would you choose and why?
It's hard to pick favorites, but if I were to choose just one of our offerings, I would go on our internship program in Athens.
I actually did two of our programs as an undergrad! I spent a fall in Galway, Ireland and a spring at our parliamentary internship in Dublin. So I put those out of the running!
The interns in Athens have a really neat set of placement options with non-governmental organizations and it's incredible how much students learn through those experiences. NGOs often work with limited staff, so interns often have the chance to roll up their sleeves and contribute in a big way.
I'd love to try my hand at that in a city as different from Philadelphia as Athens is, especially as it swells with a diverse immigrant population. Also, it's one of just a couple of our sites I haven't visited, and I'd love to go!
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful institution?
If you're in it for the long haul, I think the biggest factor in being successful is integrity. The biggest factor of our success at Arcadia is that we put our learners first.
Since we're a college of a university and not a for-profit agency, students and their faculty trust us to have their best interests at heart. And we do! I come to work every day motivated to make our programs the best they can be for our students. We have also been doing this work for a long time.
When you've been at something for decades, the kinks have been pretty well ironed out, and there's room to innovate and push ourselves to be at our best for our students.
What are the benefits of an internship abroad?
Students often ask me about the benefits of an internship abroad. They’re weighing their options carefully because they know internship experience will make a difference in their future job searches, and they want to make the right choice.
The major benefit of an internship abroad is that it will stand out to future employers. Interning abroad signals willingness to take positive risks, comfort in new situations, and status as someone who can earn a position in an international field of applicants. Plus, it will often pique a recruiter’s interest, and you definitely want employers to be curious about you.
I am fifteen years into my career, and when my internship in Dublin as an undergraduate comes up in professional contexts, people are still curious about it. I can’t say the same for my internships in the United States.
Plus, there are different lessons to be learned in a foreign city. Working in a different country will teach you more than hard skills. You will also learn to navigate ambiguity and to communicate effectively across lines of difference. Employers value those skills and if you have examples of how you picked them up, you will surely stand out.
At the same time, choose wisely! Internships abroad aren’t all created equal. Students should seek opportunities where 1) they will earn academic credit, 2) they will have something to show for their work (e.g., a research paper related to the experience or a portfolio of assigned projects), and 3) they will have a local contact besides their supervisor.
The academic credit ensures that the program has a formal structure to facilitate getting the most out of the experience. The tangible result both serves as a support piece for future job and graduate school searches and also gives the student a touchstone when they want to look back on what they contributed and learned. The local support can offer guidance about how to manage any challenges at the placement and help with adjustment to the new environment so that as much energy as possible is focused on excelling in the workplace.
Another benefit of an internship through Arcadia is that we find the placement for you. This eliminates the job search process and gets you straight to the interview. We guarantee every student accepted to our internship programs a quality placement. That comfort goes a long way.
Above all, interning abroad can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Employers will take notice of such outstanding experience on your resume, and you’ll have an experience you will never forget.