Someday in the not-too-distant future, your time as an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech will end. Diploma in hand, you will move on to the next chapter in your life—graduate school, military service, work in the private or government sector— but to reach that milestone, you must do more than merely pass your classes.

Fortunately, the University, College of Engineering, and ISE department offer a number of opportunities for ISE students to enrich their undergraduate experience: Undergraduate Research, Ware Lab teams, internships, co-op experiences, and studying/working/volunteering abroad. I’d like to focus on that last item and extol the benefits an experience abroad can bring you.

For many of you, NOW is the best time to travel abroad. Once you begin your first “real” job or start working on your thesis or dissertation in graduate school, opportunities to live and work in another country for anywhere from 3 weeks to 9 months will not be as plentiful. Studying or working abroad exposes you to a new culture and a new way of life. You'll learn to recognize and appreciate how culture influences values and behaviors. You’ll begin to understand what makes life in the United States different from anywhere else in the world.

Learning abroad will not only help you develop new skills, more independence, and self-confidence that can’t be learned on campus, it will set you apart from other job seekers in a very competitive job market. You will be able to highlight your experience abroad in job interviews and on your resume. An opportunity to make lifelong friendships with people you wouldn't have met otherwise and an unparalleled opportunity to develop genuine fluency in a foreign language are two additional rewards to be gained from participation in an education abroad program.

Want more information? Visit the VT Global Education website at  Search for programs by major, region and type. Once you’ve visit the Global Education office and meet with the Engineering Peer Advisor (an engineering student who has been abroad and is familiar with the search process), come see me in 241 Durham to discuss how a study or internship abroad can fit into the ISE major or a minor.

Paula Van Curen
ISE Academic & Program Advisor
Grado Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
241 Durham Hall

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.“ ‑Saint Augustin

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