Several of you are going to amazing places like Florence or Madrid or London – or even Tokyo to study abroad this spring! I’m so happy for all of you and excited for the adventures soon to follow. My biggest regret about my undergrad experience is that I didn’t go abroad. My younger brother went abroad when he was a junior at UCF and he is actually roommates (years later in New York City) with some of the guys he met. If I asked him, I’m sure he would say it’s the best thing he did in college.
If you are lucky enough to study abroad, I say – ENJOY IT. Can you also get an internship while you are there? Absolutely. And if your schedule permits and you find yourself with an overabundance of free time – perhaps an internship abroad is a good idea. But most students I speak with have a pretty busy course schedule while they are abroad and any extra time is spent making new friends, traveling, and making memories that will last a lifetime.
My best advice for studying abroad is to enjoy it and to set up informational interviews while you are there. It’s always a great idea to build your professional contacts – and building international contacts – is even better! Either before you go abroad or once you get there, make a list of your dream companies in the US and see if they have offices in any of the cities you’ll be visiting. Do some research on LinkedIn and do some digging for executive email addresses. Pick 1-3 people whose profile you admire on LinkedIn and send them an email (attaching your resume) and requesting an informational interview. Tell them that your dream company is X in the US and you were excited to see they had an overseas office. Ask if you can come in for five minutes to hear how they got started and get advice.
Good luck and have the time of your life!