Students share their work abroad experiences at global internship panel

The event was hosted as part of the University’s Global Week programming

screen-shot-2019-10-24-at-6-49-31-pm
Panelists talked about the benefits of choosing an experience abroad. Courtesy Dreama Johnson

The University is wrapping up “Global Week,” which offered a series of events, such as movie screenings and cafe chats, encouraging students to make connections abroad. Students shared their experiences with securing opportunities abroad during the panel “How to Secure a Global Internship” held Wednesday evening in Garrett Hall with 50 students in attendance.

The panel highlighted opportunities for students who want to get involved with the global community through organizations on-Grounds or around Charlottesville. The discussion also provided students with an opportunity to learn more about international internships and education abroad programs.

During the first half of the program students talked broadly about the benefits of choosing an experience abroad. They addressed the financial concern of international travel and housing, noting scholarships of various degrees, including education grants, ISO-administered scholarships and University and department based scholarships. These are either part or full ride scholarships, designed to make opportunities abroad available no matter what a student’s financial status may be. 

The second half offered a segment called “Lightning Talks,” where attendees could ask direct questions to students who talked during the first half, including third-year Engineering student Ariana Zimmerman with the Office of Engineering International Programs, third-year College student Sam Stapleton with the Global Internship Placement Program and Rees Huggins, a second-year in the College, with the Center for Global Health. 

The speakers emphasized that opportunities abroad allow participants to serve unique communities and give them skills. 

Third-year College student Caroline Kirk was invited by the Education Abroad Office to speak at the event after interning at Morocco last summer, along with fourth-year College student Kristina Colevas, fourth-year Commerce student Oretha Domfeh, third-year College student Landon Holben, Huggins, Stapleton and Zimmerman. 

Kirk shared her internship story with the group and spoke about her personal development. She interned at the High Atlas Foundation, an opportunity she found through the University’s Education Abroad Program. 

“Everyone has a reason that they come to the country, or stay in the country or end up there, and more often than not, it's spiritual,” Kirk said. “And that doesn't necessarily mean its religious, but just the way I was living and learning with my entire being … Everything we did connected to every facet of my life, and that really ended up being spiritual for me.”

Kirk added that her story in Morocco, while unique, was certainly not the only option abroad for students, noting the experiences from other speakers like Stapleton and Colevas and who had opportunities in places such as Ireland or India.

“I think it's really cool how every intern or student who studied abroad that came to speak tonight was in a different country doing something different but could really relate to that idea that it was a full experience that continues to impact them and change the way they view their time at U.Va. and the way they want to be in the world and serve the world — and I think that's great,” Kirk said.

Global week is part of a national effort through the State Department to highlight global and international programming and opportunities at university campuses across America.

Annia Dowell-Wiltshire, an education abroad advisor and the International Studies office, noted that the University’s panels provide students with a wide range of information about participating in international programs.

“We're doing panels on things like international internships for all students,” Dowell-Wiltshire said. “Or things like global career preparedness if you want to work in international development.”

Dowell-Wiltshire and the white tent will be outside just this week, but the opportunity to apply and explore opportunities abroad is just beginning. The International Studies Office will continue to answer questions and offer advice to students throughout the school year and offers resources online. Ultimately Global Week asks University students to explore opportunities abroad, which was echoed by Kirk, who recommended all students to take the experience if possible.

“If you want to grow and get the most out of your college experience, and your time at U.Va. and it can work for you and it’s feasible, why wouldn't you put yourself out there and try something new and go on an abroad experience?”

related stories