International Career Expo: Alumni Share Experiences Abroad

As students start developing job skills, it’s natural for them to feel anxious about their future. Most students will be presented with many diverse job opportunities throughout their career. Some may find themselves landing a job in another country.

On April 25, 2014, the Career Development Center and World Languages and Literature department hosted the International Career Expo for students who were interested in exploring worldwide careers. This event was aimed at, but not limited to, students interested in career applications of a major or minor in a foreign language and/or those desiring to uncover international career possibilities. More than a dozen alumni traveled back to Pacific to share their experiences and to give advice to current students. The panel discussion was lead by Jennifer Baker ’00, Jamie Lucero ’98, Shani Moser ’94, Jessie Wachter ’03, Jack Trummer ’97 and Clare Richardson-Barlow ’08. These and additional alumni lead table discussions afterward focused on various career topics related to intercultural and international interests. *

While students dream an ideal job upon graduating, they are often restricted by tunnel vision.

“We get limited by school, college and getting married. It’s a very defined path and it doesn’t fit so many of us,” said Wachter.

Wachter, as well as the other panelists, advised students to take a step back and experience life before walking down a structured path. She also reminded students to remember that obstacles do emerge, and not every route will be as smooth as one thinks.

Baker remembers having an outline of dream jobs. “The job market doesn’t always dictate to your dream job,” Baker said. “I promised myself to always be open to opportunities, so don’t discredit yourself. Throw yourself out there into the universe. If something catches, great, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Always be your own best advocate.”

But in order to fully get an understanding of the direction our lives take, all of the panelists agree that to uncover ones skill set and interests, people need to experience the world. This might be through study abroad during school or taking a gap year to travel abroad. Lucero went straight from Pacific into graduate school and says he felt a little rushed.

“A more important thing might be to just take a little bit of time to let stuff settle on you and to make sure you’re ready for your next step,” Lucero said. “I almost feel like study abroad should be a requirement for college students.”

Even though many of the alumni at the Expo used traveling abroad as a step to further their future careers, a main path to discovering what the world has to  offer is opened by networking—getting to know people and letting your name be known. While going to conferences can be helpful with meeting professionals, actively going to a social event or place and shaking a bunch of hands is important as well. Trummer believes networking is key to finding a solid career.

Networking can be as easy as talking to friends and forming connections by having casual conversations with people. “You don’t have to go out on a mission [to network]; just be friendly and a person who people will remember,” Wachter advised. “If you drop that link you never know who is going to come out of the woodwork.”

Overall, the alumni who provide time to discuss these experiences talking to friends and forming connections by having casual conversations with people.

Overall, the alumni who provide time to discuss these experiences realize the importance of immersing oneself in another place. Moser believes studying abroad gives people an in-depth view of reality. Every minute these alumni were gone, they became fluent in another language, obtained career opportunities and met people they wouldn’t have met elsewhere. It is a life changing experience and it doesn’t matter what major a person has or if a person even wishes to live outside of the country. It’s about strengthening skills, discovering who you are and creating relevant experiences.

“When you go abroad and you learn the good and the bad, that’s what makes you have a very well rounded opinion of what a country is like,” Moser said. “I was able to grow up. I was humbled a little bit in life, had my feet kicked out from under me a few times, and I realized that I don’t know everything I thought I knew when I graduated from Pacific.” Finding a career path suited for the individual is what everyone strives for and what the International Career Expo aimed to help with. Although finding an ideal job is difficult, there are many opportunities to get a foot in the door. Richardson-Barlow entered the workforce during the recession and says internships and unpaid fellowships are a great way to find a permanent job or a way to get on track for future careers.

“If you really want to do something, volunteer to do it,” Richardson-Barlow said. “I know it isn’t the greatest advice to say do something for free, but it really works.”

And when things don’t work out, or rejection occurs, the panelists say do not give up. “It’s just life and for whatever reason the timing was not right,” Baker says. “It’s always a good opportunity to refresh, take a look at your skills, and see if you’re marketing yourself in the way that you want to be regarded.

Eventually something will shake loose. It always does.”

*Pacific University thanks all of the alumni who contributed to this great event:
    Christina Barboza ‘08
    Tessa Daniel ‘05
    Patrick Dedrick ‘08
    Estelle Konrad ‘06
    Ean Lensch ‘96
    Jennifer (Bullock) Melo ‘06
    Karyn (Arnold) Rankin ‘09
    Reed Scott-Schwalbach ‘98
    Lucas Steuber ‘09
    Wintry Whitt Smith ‘97
    Jennifer Baker ‘00  
    Jack Trummer ‘97
    Clare Richardson-Barlow ‘08
    Jamie Lucero ‘98
    Jessie Wachter ‘03
    Shani Moser ‘94

Friday, May 9, 2014