Posted On February 19, 2020 By In Arabic, Global With 207 Views

Learning About Alumni Careers and Making Connections

Diana is from Chicago, IL and participated in the 2017 Arabic Summer program in Morocco.

I participated in the Career Connections: Seminar for U.S. Exchange Alumni in Austin, Texas. The conference gathered 80 “U.S. alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs with expert career coaches, professionals from diverse fields, and international leaders” (alumni.state.gov) to network and learn how to leverage our international experiences to propel professionally.

As an alumna of the NSLIY and YES Abroad programs, I have noticed a large portion of students that studied abroad on the NSLI-Y and YES Abroad study international relations or liberal arts-related fields. Before arriving at the conference I set the goal to meet people who studied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in college and have used STEM abroad. As a current engineering student at the University of Illinois, I wanted to meet people further in their career who have used a technical field with an international focus.

The conference started with an evening of networking. I met alumni from the Gilman scholarship, CBYX, Fulbright Scholarship, CLS NSLI-Y, and YES Abroad among other programs. I met people from all corners of the US who studied fields from theology, linguistics, and technology. I met Dustin Wilborn, an alumnus of the CBYX Young Professionals program in Germany. He has since worked as an electrician domestically and most recently traveled with the US State Department overseeing the renovations of the US Embassy in Jerusalem with his engineering electrical engineering experience. It was phenomenal speaking to him about different safety standards and construction methods since we both have experience in the construction and engineering field.

I heard talks from professional career coaches and State Department employees about their career paths. Since the conference was focused on professional development, there were several talks about networking and using LinkedIn. It was interesting to hear from a Foreign Service Officer who has known she wanted to work in government all her life and hear about working in the US Embassy in London during 9/11, a formative experience in her career.

The speakers had a breadth of experiences and professions. One of the speakers is a leader of the sales and operations of the South By Southwest (SXSW) Conference and festival in Austin. We heard how he engages international audiences when inviting speakers, presenters, and audience members. The knowledge of global markets is not restricted to working at the State Department. Every profession in the public and private sector is becoming increasingly globalized and having international experience is invaluable to understanding another regions’ culture. Another notable speaker works at Microsoft with international contracts, mostly with the Chinese government. She noted the combination of international law and computer science

My NSLIY and YES Abroad programs have motivated me to pursue an internationally focused career through language learning and cultural immersion. Especially, my YES Abroad Capstone/ final research project was researching renewable energy sources in Morocco with a doctoral candidate at the Mohammed V University (Université Mohammed-V de Rabat جامعة محمد الخامس‎). I was able to use the language skills I had learned to survey Moroccans (in French, Darija and Modern Standard Arabic) in multiple regions of the country about their household energy consumption.

Following the YES Abroad program, I am a freshman in college. I am currently a semi-finalist for a scholarship with the Department of Defense to conducting scientific research domestically. I could also envision myself working in the private sector in an engineering design firm with international clients. Meeting people working in a variety of fields was eye-opening to the careers I can head down with a technical career. With my participation in NSLIY and YES Abroad, I hope to be working in an internationally focused career involving STEM.

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