By: Milan Dave
During my first week in Austin, Texas, I often questioned my purpose or goal as an exchange student. Would the experience alone make me content? When leaving, would I pack up my memories, just to take back home along with all my other belongings? Regardless, I knew that my time in Austin would be filled with self-exploration in all aspects of my life.
One of these aspects, that was often on my mind, was the professional one. In the summer I applied to an internship program based in the United States, but being a Canadian citizen, I didn’t really expect to hear back. After arriving in Austin, I continued to apply to job postings for the summer of 2018 and on my resume, added my host university as the educational institution where I was currently attending classes. Remembering that I had applied to the US internship program, I also updated my resume on the online portal to reflect the new changes.
In terms of the hiring/recruiting process, I can’t be sure if the change in location influenced the invitation for an interview, or later, the offer of the internship. That being said, my exchange experience was a very relevant point of conversation during my interview with members of the hiring organization. In fact, one of the managers that interviewed me was based in the Dallas, Texas area! During the interview process, I made sure to inform them that I was a Canadian citizen, as I knew US-based internship positions are often tailored for US citizens only.
Securing this internship means I will now be going back to Texas this May, but this time for professional development. After spending five months as an exchange student at the University of Texas at Austin, it seems only fitting that I will be returning for another four months this summer. Had I not been given this subsequent opportunity, I would have truly packed up my memories to take back home. After returning from such a significant, but temporary international experience, it’s really easy to think of it as a fond memory or to view it with a hint of nostalgia. However, now knowing that I will be returning to see many of my friends is a very comforting feeling.
Although I worked as a part-time student on campus at UT Austin (a lengthy process that involved me making a burdensome trip to Immigration Services) for five months, it wasn’t enough time to find an opportunity that would enable me to hone my professional skills. My advice to anyone planning to studying abroad, who is also interested in securing an international job/internship afterwards, would be to try to put yourself in the best position that will enable you to do so. For example, if you know that you will be studying in Italy next semester, spend some time today figuring out how you could potentially be employed while in Italy (immigration considerations). Next, learn some basic Italian and start applying to open positions!
Milan Dave is a student in the Engineering & Management program, Faculty of Engineering, at McMaster University. He studied abroad for a single term at the University of Texas at Austin, United States, with the KILLAM Fellowship Program.