GEARE Alumni Panel
On Thursday, November 17, 2022, I had the opportunity to put together a GEARE alumni panel with some graduates who went abroad to Germany. This was a great opportunity to hear from the experiences of some successful GEARE alumni and how the program impacted their career paths. The alumni who attended were Scott Campbell, Brittney Scifres, Chloe WiseYoung, and Tyler Brammeier.
One of the big questions that was discussed revolved around how the GEARE program influenced their journey as professional engineers. Scott talked about how studying and working abroad gave him the opportunity to see the fun of working in an international and cross-cultural industry. He was also able to pursue finding an industry that he was passionate about and get valuable exposure to cultural differences in communication. Brittney had the opportunity to go back to Germany to work after her graduation and her GEARE experience gave her an advantage in terms of language and networking skills. This allowed her to be set up for an international career because she had the experience of interacting with people from different cultures. Chloe was able to intern with the same country abroad that she did in the United States and, after graduation, was able to get a full-time job there because of her established network within the company. In her current job, she works often with international colleagues and she stated that her GEARE experience gave her the cultural development to successfully achieve this. Tyler has had the opportunity to travel for work to various countries in the jobs he has held since graduation including Germany, Brazil, and Sweeden.
In general, the entire panel was in agreement that their GEARE experience abroad was their most meaningful college experience. While not completely free of challenges, such as navigating an entirely new country in a foreign language, they agreed that any hardships that they went through were valuable learning experiences. Being able to go through the experience as part of a cohort of students also mitigated some of the difficulties of being abroad. They were all able to recall meaningful memories of traveling with friends in the program and said that some of the connections they made during these experiences have become lifelong friendships. To future students going abroad, they said it is important to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sometimes you will have to go outside of your comfort zone which can be challenging but it will be worth it in the end. The personal growth and relationships built through the experience were one of their biggest takeaways from their experiences. Not everyone will take the same path, but the sense of accomplishment and achievement is a shared reward that all students will take away from their experience abroad.
Thank you to all the alumni who were able to make this panel happen and good luck to all the students who are preparing to go abroad next semester!