I’ve been back in the US for a week and a half now and while I have mixed feelings about returning to the northern hemisphere, I’m glad to be back. The seven weeks of academic programming was a perfect length of time to experience Australia and the extra week afterward, spent in the surrounds and New Zealand, was a perfect way to step back and be able to relax and enjoy everything I didn’t have time for before.
My first impression of Sydney was the scenic view walking out of the train station into Hyde Park. I can still vividly feel the pure joy, excitement and curiosity of that moment, a combination of emotions I’m not sure I’ve ever quite felt before. On the way to my hotel, I was introduced to Sydney hospitality through smiling faces and endless greetings as I careened my way along – heavy suitcases in tow – trying to remember to keep left on the footpath. From simply getting situated to making an excursion to the world famous Bondi Beach, Sydney was heavenly from the start.
When the actual program started and I began to meet the students I’d be experiencing Australia with, I was beyond thrilled. Naturally, Pitt students are the best, but the Kansas, Colorado State, and SUNY-Oswego students we welcomed into our group were close seconds. It’s exciting to have that ability to make connections and network with people across the United States and it feeds my ego to see my LinkedIn connections count go up up up. Seriously though, I’ve always dreamed of interning in Colorado and the fact some of the students from CSU I had the opportunity to network with have interned at companies that match my interests can only help with those goals.
Academically, I was taking a class that I anticipated having zero interest in but needed to fulfill a gen ed requirement, urban studies. However, I found a way to engage with the material in ways that aligned more with my interests in analyzing the relationships between the forces seen in global cities and the effects it has on the ability of businesses to succeed, especially with regards to supply chains. Getting out of the classroom to see and learn about the economic transformations experienced in Sydney was also a really cool way to see areas of town I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to.
Professionally, my newly updated resume displaying a career-boosting international internship doesn’t tell the whole story. As much as that will help me get interview invitations, I believe the other skills that I practiced through my internship will ultimately help me land offers. My communication and interpersonal skills have never been stronger. Most notable to me is the progress I’ve made in gaining workplace confidence and adaptability. Bouncing around projects – as described in a previous post – actually benefited me because now I know a lot more how to mesh with a team and how to identify what specific skills I have that can add value to that team. To me, the internship was the best part of the program.
Life outside of work and school brought a whole new level of cultural integration that aided me in my personal development goal. Throughout my travels, I was confronted with challenges to the values and beliefs I hold dear and that shape my actions. Being challenged by differing perspectives brought me to understand my own views and the views of others better. Most importantly, it strengthened my ability to accept everybody regardless of disagreements since our discussions were built on a framework of mutual respect. No matter where I go, this will be fundamental to any success I have, be it at Pitt, in the workforce, or life in general.
I’d like to thank the University of Pittsburgh and Pitt Business for facilitating the opportunities I had in the South Pacific and Arielle Schweber from the Pitt Business study abroad office for helping me get involved in study abroad and helping me find the amazing fit that Sydney was. I’d also like to thank my donor for making this trip financially feasible. In addition to the academics and internship, camping under majestic skies lit by the milky way galaxy, feeding giraffes at the historic Taronga Zoo, seeing the Great Barrier Reef, walking through the Daintree Rainforest, hiking the famous coastal walks, exploring the vibrant city of Sydney, visiting New Zealand and the fjords of Milford Sound, and so much more were all truly once in a lifetime experiences.