#InternAbroadBecause ... the Buzzfeed articles are true. It will change your life.

Stasia Lopez's picture

Jason Davison will graduate in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Minors in Spanish and Linguistics from the University of Pittsburgh. He currently serves as a House Manager at the William Pitt Union Building on campus as well as serves as the Secretary and Social Chair of Omicron Delta Kappa. Jason interned abroad in Sydney, Australia! Read his interview below and learn more about his international experience: 

 #InternAbroadBecause ... the buzzfeed articles are true. It will change your life.

What motivated your decision to intern abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?

I really wanted to study abroad, but I had not yet had the opportunity to do an internship or really delve into a career field I was interested in. When I was doing research into study abroad options, I found that I could do an internship abroad in addition to my study abroad program, and knew that was the best choice for me. I ended up applying to intern abroad in Sydney, and this was for a couple of reasons. I had already been to Europe and chose to go somewhere that was growing rapidly and had a lot to offer in terms of experiences I had never had before. Sydney, as a rapidly growing cultural and economic center in Asia and Oceania, was the absolute perfect choice, in addition to being somewhere I had always wanted to visit. I actually used a bit of an unorthodox tool to pick between my last two choices.  I narrowed down to interning abroad in Berlin and Sydney, and used Buzzfeed articles to find out more about what living in those cities was like from people who actually live there. 

How did you find your internship? What resources did you use?

The Study Abroad program I applied for was coordinated by CAPA International Education, which also handles international internships. I applied with them and they asked for my resume, a detailed explanation of my past work experiences, a detailed explanation of my ideal career field, and they took it out of my hands. They reached out to me about a month later to let me know that they had found a company interested in interviewing me for a position with them and gave me an interview time. I researched the company and read everything I could find on them, before researching “Australian work culture” and “Australian interview etiquette” before logging on to do the cross-ocean skype interview. During the interview, we chatted about my past experiences, what I was looking to do for the internship, and what I would like to do for the future, then we talked about what the company could offer me. After the interview, I received an email from CAPA letting me know that I could accept or reject the position with them and the company’s representative would do the same. I accepted and after that, it was history. 

What was your experience like? Can you share some favorite memories - and challenges?

My experience was better than I ever could have imagined it would be. I was given real responsibility at my company from the start. I was essentially a small startup’s entire human resources department for the duration of my stay in Sydney, and I had the opportunity to be exposed to a lot of different things. My position began with a lot of research, which was the right step for me. I had minimal HR experience, and even less experience with Australian HR standards. For the first two weeks, all I did was research on the Big 4 (PKMG, EY, PWC, and Deloitte) and how they hire students from universities in Australia right into their corporate programs. I didn’t know where to start because I had never been to corporate recruitment. 

After almost 40 hours of research on these companies’ websites and websites like theglassdoor, and others, I created my first real accomplishment: a seventeen-slide PowerPoint on the company’s template documenting how these companies go about selecting potential future employees from their applicant pool. I was given a list of necessary entry paperwork for a variety of positions and asked to find “best practice” and up-to-date standards for each form and tailor it to fit my company’s needs. This is where I truly hit a road block. I had never heard of some of these forms, I was unfamiliar with Australian practices, and had no idea how to navigate Australia’s Department of Labor. I was able to find some of the paperwork but not all of it, so I reached out to my supervisor at my job in the states and asked her where to begin. She pointed me in the direction of some labor standards websites, and I got down to work. A week later, I presented three concise documents to my internship supervisor, one for each party, that the supervisor could print out in its entirety and have all necessary entry paperwork prepared. For the second half of my internship, I worked more closely with business operations and helping to prepare product for the consumer. 

Overall my experience was exactly what I was hoping for. I worked with great people, got to experience a different work atmosphere, and got exposed to a potential career field, all while having real responsibility at my workplace and challenging myself.  

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?

I developed a lot of business smarts, I would say. I had never had an internship before, so the opportunity to work closely with business operations and human resources at a small company gave me the chance to interact with all parts of a business from sales, to product creation, to internal operations, and finally to follow through with clients. But what made it special was that I got real responsibility at the same time that I got to experience a new and very special part of the world. 

Jason Davison - #InternAbroadBecause ... the buzzfeed articles are true. It will change your life.

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today?

Interning abroad changed my career path. I went into the experience with a couple of potential options for what I wanted to do with my life and came out of it with less. But the experience as a whole put me through a transformation with how I want to live my life. I’m more open to new experiences, more open to give anything a shot, and more willing throw myself into an experience because I know that I’ll come out the other side for the better. 

Any advice for students thinking about working overseas? What are some highlights or things that you gained or changed your perspective?

Don’t freak yourself out over potential cultural differences. Do the best research you can and throw yourself into the experience. The people you’re working with will understand that you’re new to the atmosphere and forgive you for making small mistakes. I couldn’t find much on Australian workplace culture besides the fact that it is more relaxed, so I tried to forget my worry and just tread lightly until I got a feel for it. I worked closely with my supervisor for the first week and got to observe how she interacted with the other staff of my workplace and I got a feel for the atmosphere before I had to interact with others at any real depth. 

Absolutely take the opportunity to work overseas. Even if you’re worried you won’t like it, there’s only one way to find out. And even if you come out the other side having hated the experience, you will be better off for it. You’ll have learned what kind of workplaces you like, it will help you on figuring out your career path, and you’ll see a different part of the world. On top of all of that, an internship abroad in any field looks great on a resume. 

Jason Davison  - #InternAbroadBecause ... the buzzfeed articles are true. It will change your life.

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity? 

When I went abroad, I was told that I would come back feeling like a global citizen. I wouldn’t say I  feel like anything quite so cliché, but I definitely have a lot more experiences under my belt that tell me that I know how to interact with people who come from a different culture. Pitt has a lot of international students, and I no longer feel quite as uncomfortable interacting with them or approaching them to talk to them. Although global citizen feels too cliché, I would venture far enough to say that I am culturally open. I can’t wait to travel abroad or even live abroad again, and I count the days until I get that opportunity. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I went out of my way to meet Australians while we were in Sydney, and my experience was that much better for it. Although I was in a class that taught us about the history of the “global city of Sydney,” talking to Australians gave me a whole different point of view on how the city has grown, the pros and cons of living there, how different people experience the culture, and how people end up in the city. Studying abroad can leave you in a little American bubble outside in another country if you let it, so a huge piece of advice from me is to get out there and do things that are outside your comfort zone. Try new things and surprise yourself! 

#InternAbroadBecause ... the Buzzfeed articles are true. It will change your life. 




Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Career Consultant at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel,  and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando.


All photos courtesy and copyright Jason Davison