Jennifer Hilsdon poses next to a large lake.

Gaining a Global Perspective

The Heavener School of Business continues to prioritize international experiences. In 2018, 51% of Heavener students graduated with an international experience. Students at Heavener understand the importance of seeing the business world around the globe.

Jennifer Hilsdon (BSBA ’21) wrote about her experiences interning in Dublin during Fall 2018.

My decision to study at UF was very much influenced by the opportunities I saw to study abroad and the emphasis that Warrington places on engaging in an international learning environment.

If there was one thing I was confident about completing during my time in college, it was a semester abroad. I was able to fulfill this desire last semester when I studied and interned in Dublin, Ireland through the UF in Dublin program with Heavener. This experience further opened my eyes to the personal and professional development opportunities abroad, and it also created a desire and passion in me to pursue this in my future career. In this notion, I will be applying to the combination Master of International Business program this fall with the desire to expand upon the foundation I built during my term abroad.

When deciding which program I wanted to participate in, I was immediately attracted to those that offered the internship component. I had narrowed my selection down to the UF in London or Dublin programs. I ultimately decided to intern in Dublin because I felt the city itself was more aligned with my lifestyle.

This is something that I highly encourage other students to consider when studying abroad – research each location thoroughly to find out about the culture and city life. I come from a fairly significant background of Irish ancestors and I have always wanted to visit Ireland, so for me the decision was an easy one.

During my time in Ireland, I interned with Dress for Success Dublin, which is a non-profit organization that seeks to support the economic independence of women through providing professional development tools, such as interview suiting and CV critiques. They also work with the government, as well as local and multinational businesses, to raise awareness about the gender pay gap through various campaigns and initiatives.

I came on as a Marketing Communications intern and was asked to develop an online store for the organization to sell the donated, non-professional clothes they receive. The purpose of the online store was to generate additional income for the day-to-day expenses incurred when offering services free of charge to women. By the end of the semester, we had successfully launched this pilot store through the mobile app, “Depop,” and had already seen nearly a double in the PayPal income. This was an incredibly rewarding experience to both see the store generate profit and to imagine how they could adapt the project in the future.

Through this internship experience, I developed a new cultural competency, which has directly resulted in my adaptability in the workplace. From my time with Dress for Success, I feel confident that I can take on challenges in any work environment and face them head-on. Furthermore, I have a new respect for patience and humility. Interning abroad teaches you that it is okay to ask questions because that is how you successfully engage with other cultures.

Students who intern and study abroad must be willing to step out of their comfort zone, fail, and learn from their mistakes in order to gain a full understanding of the cultures they are interacting with.