Opportunities to work abroad post-Whitman

Rylee Neville, News Reporter

Upon graduation, Whitman students have numerous opportunities to gain work experience internationally. 

Last Monday, Nov. 4, two international nonprofits, Connect 3 and Hoja Nueva, based in Ethiopia and Peru respectively, presented to interested students on campus about internship opportunities abroad. These organizations are two of many that Whitman students have the potential to access during or after their time on campus.

According to Director of Off-Campus Studies Susan Holme, working abroad gives students a way to strengthen intercultural communication skills within a professional setting.

“Not unlike the benefits from working in one’s home country, international work provides recent graduates with invaluable professional experience,” Holme said. “It has the added advantage of providing an opportunity to live and work alongside citizens of the host country.”

In order to work internationally, qualifications vary across programs. Previous experience teaching, background in particular fields, foreign language skills or experience living abroad can be assets in qualifying to work internationally.  

“Most work abroad placement organizations that I have been in contact with seek students who are highly motivated, flexible, mature and demonstrate an ability to take initiative on the job,” Holme said.

Whitman alum Gillian Frew ’11 is one of the students who met these qualifications. Frew worked as an English language assistant in the province of Pontevedra within the region of Galicia in northwest Spain. Frew was part of Auxiliares de Conversación, a program that assigned native English speakers to support English language curricula in under-supported schools within remote regions of Spain. 

At Whitman Frew was an English major and a Spanish minor. She used her bi-lingual skills in her work abroad. For Frew, working abroad was a valuable learning experience. 

“I think the experience of navigating your life in another country is beneficial for anyone and also teaches empathy for people coming to this country, especially those without the resources and privilege we had,” Frew said.

Off-Campus Studies Fellow Elizabeth Reynolds worked abroad for a school year in a suburb outside of Madrid, Spain. She worked at an elementary school for grades 2-4 as an English language assistant for English and Science classes. 

“I think the most important part of the job was to create an environment where the students were excited about speaking English and wanted to practice,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds studied abroad in Granada, Spain, when she was a student at Whitman. She wanted to return to Spain to experience life as a professional rather than a student. 

“Working in a different country gives you a much more intimate and realistic idea of what it is actually like to live in a certain place, compared to studying there,” Reynolds said. “It also felt like a huge success to live like a Spanish resident and be held to the same standards as the other teachers and professionals.”

According to Reynolds, this opportunity to work internationally gave her a way to learn about language and cultural barriers. 

“My job in Spain gave me a lot of experience with working with different people and finding a way to work together that contributed to the larger goal and made use of each person’s expertise,” Reynolds said. 

If you are thinking about life after graduation in another country, check out this website: https://www.transitionsabroad.com/