We recently did an interview with Troy Peden who has done almost everything there is to do in the fields of international education and study abroad. He interned and volunteered abroad as well as working for several universities as a study abroad advisor. He is the founder of GoAbroad.com, the leading resource for meaningful travel. He currently lives in Asia with his wife and children.
Life After Study Abroad: As you know, Life After Study Abroad Magazine is a resource for students who have completed their study abroad experience. As a former university study abroad advisor what is the most important piece of advise you can give study abroad alumni?
Troy: Most students suffer from some degree of reverse culture shock. Specifically students have a difficult time because their friends cannot always understand what they have experienced. Many students have a hard time finding someone to share their experience with. My advice is to spend some of your time connecting with other study abroad returnees. Join your study abroad alumni club on campus, if your university doesn’t have one, create one. Volunteer at the international education office and act as an advocate for future study abroad students.
Life After Study Abroad: After a student has studied abroad, internships are a nice next option, both while enrolled as an undergrad and also after graduation. What does GoAbroad.com do for prospective international interns?
Troy: Internships are a big part of Go Abroad and one of the big growth areas in international education right now. Prospective interns can find opportunities for academic credit like Boston University or Globalinks internships as well as non-credit pre-professional internships like many of Global Experiences programs. Interns will be amazed at the types of experiences they can find overseas. I have met a Psych major who worked on an experiment with dolphins and a political science student who spent a semester working in Parliament in London. Interns have to join these programs with an open mind and an eagerness to work hard and impress. It may become one of their better references.
Life After Study Abroad: What if a student cannot afford to pay for a semester for tuition and fees are there really international job opportunities?
Troy: GoAbroad.com began as a resource for university students, while directories like TEFL, Teach Abroad and International Jobs attract a wider demographic, students are still a big focus for our searches. Students can find short-term governmentally coordinated work programs in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. These types of jobs depend upon the student’s motivation, while many students work in Pubs and Hotels many find jobs in their chosen careers. There are also seasonal jobs including ski resorts and Disney placements that still look great on a resume and provide a fun life experience.
Life After Study Abroad: What advice do you give to students about teaching overseas?
Troy: Students should not teach abroad unless they want to ‘teach’ abroad. Just because you are a native English speaker it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a great teacher.
I strongly suggest that students consider a TEFL program either in the US or abroad. At minimum the future teacher has a few lesson plans in their back pocket, at best the TEFL certificate recipient will discover that teaching abroad can be a legitimate long term career as easily as a one year international stint.
Life After Study Abroad: Students who study abroad are often amazed to discover there is a career associated with study abroad. What advice do you give someone who wants to work in the study abroad field?
Troy: There are few careers where you can earn a living and change the world significantly and positively, yet working in study abroad is one of those rare job choices. There are several ways to break into the study abroad field, which is fairly competitive for obvious reasons. A recent grad might consider becoming a field representative for a large study abroad provider. Those interested more in advising might consider an entry-level job at a university study abroad office. I recommend that students attend a national NAFSA conference and take part in their job center. Additionally while they are still students they should focus on getting experience today by volunteering in their international education office working with study abroad or international students.
Life After Study Abroad: The goal of Life After Study Abroad Magazine is to be THE resource for everything post-study abroad. Any last bit of advice for those returning from their international experience?
Troy: You have just finished what seems like the most profound experience you have ever had, don’t let go of that optimism! While you may not return again on an international education program, make sure you continue to travel. Traveling is good for you and it’s good for the world. Willing or not, you are now an ambassador for your chosen destinations and your home country. Relish the role and tell everyone you know that they need to study abroad and that it will be the best decision they ever make in college!