Connecting the Global Network: Students and Alumni Reflect on Study Abroad
The Carlson School provides both short-term and long-term opportunities for MA-HRIR students to take business classes at international universities to deepen their global perspective. The benefits of international learning are wide ranging: students prepare for global HR careers, get exposure to other cultures and languages, experience personal growth and development, and create a global network of friends and colleagues.
Meet four alumni who made unforgettable memories studying abroad, and developed a greater sense of global mindfulness.
Exploring Denmark like a local
During the summer of 2006, Kristin Lee Lewandowski, ’06 MA-HRIR, and her husband ventured to Norway for a week. She then continued on to Denmark, where she took an elective MBA class on entrepreneurship and economics at Copenhagen Business School. In her undergraduate program, Lewandoski studied French and went abroad to France. However, comparing the two experiences, she says she equally enjoyed her time studying in a country where she did not know the language.
“This experience helped prepare me for a global HR career by exposing me to other cultures, giving me an experience where I was not a native speaker of the language, and helping form an international network of peers,” she reflects. In her free time, while she wasn’t also traveling to Germany, Sweden and Norway, Kristin recalls spending time bicycling across the city, as many citizens of Denmark do.
Practicing language skills in Italy
Zachariah Roberts, '14 MA-HRIR, hoped studying abroad would boost his professional career, expose him to the stunning architecture native to Italy, and give him an opportunity to practice his Italian. During his stay, he took electives concerning the media landscape and sustainability impacts while developing global HR experience. Roberts says that two key skills he developed while studying abroad were independence and patience.
“You have to be motivated during periods of ambiguity, patient learning a new culture, and outgoing enough to create new connections quickly,” he says. Roberts says studying in Italy was one of the best experiences of his life, and he still video chats with his international friends.
Preparing for global HR challenges
Mary Kate Gross, '16 MA-HRIR, spent two weeks in India as part of the Managing in the Global Environment course offered through the Carlson School. The opportunity caught her eye because the content was highly interactive.
“I wanted the opportunity to be integrated into the culture instead of sitting in a classroom that happened to be in a different part of the world,” Gross says.
During her experience, the students spent one week in New Delhi and one week in Bangalore. Gross learned how large and small businesses, government agencies, non-profits, and other institutions operate in India and on a global scale.
"This study abroad experience helped me prepare for my global HR career, as I was able to gain deeper understanding of things corporations need to consider when expanding their business to India when it comes to hiring workers and what benefits and compensation to offer,” she says.
Forming lifelong connections
Jill (Boyd) Sawa, '01 MA-HRIR, returned from a stint at the University of Otago in Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand with a host of new friends. She lived with people from all around the world including China, Sweden, Fiji, Malaysia, and France. She also met her husband while studying abroad. “We have been together 14 years now and have a 2-year-old daughter,” she says.
Sawa cherishes the memories of making cauliflower soup with her Danish roommate, and now she and her family travel to Sweden to see their international friends get married. “The bonds and friendships made so far away and so long ago continue!”