Business and Pleasure in Denmark – Aarhus University

I have a ton of family in Denmark and scattered around the rest of Scandinavia. I had been looking for an excuse to visit them for quite some time when my Aunt informed me about a variety of summer programs that the Business Department at Aarhus University would be offering.  Aarhus University (AU) is Denmark’s second oldest university and the largest, with over 40,000 enrolled students. In most prestigious ranking lists, of the world´s best universities, Aarhus University is placed in the top 100.

Once I was accepted into AU’s intensive Staffing and Personnel Selection Program, and the University at Albany accepted my transfer credit request, I was off to Denmark. I made a quick pit stop in Iceland first, which was stunning, I encourage everyone to take a trip to this alien landscape at least once (I know I will be going back again someday).  I arrived in Denmark early one morning in mid-June, and as I got off the plane, I immediately froze: literally! The first thing I did was go out a buy some good jackets, this would be the coldest summer of my life and one of Denmark’s coldest in recent history. Luckily, Aarhus University was less than a 10-minute bike ride from my aunt’s home, where I was staying. 

In Denmark, most classes are taught in English at the collegiate level, especially business courses.  So fortunately, I did not have to learn Danish (which I believe is impossible, and definitely more difficult then Japanese, and that’s coming from a girl who grew up in with a Danish-speaking father).  I would also like to congratulate Denmark on having the best English-speaking skills of any European country that I have encountered, thank you for making my life so delightfully simple.

During my time at Aarhus University, I learned everything there is to know about staffing and personnel selection.  This intensive summer program taught me how to put together a successful team of employees through the use of best practices in staffing and personnel selection. It familiarized me with all of the major stages of the selection process, including job specifications, recruitment, first screening, behaviorally-based candidate assessment, and decision making. The course emphasized reliable and valid tools for assessing candidates, as grounded in decades of research in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. I walked away with an excellent understanding of the utility of staffing methods and the relation of staffing and terminations to long-term human capital development and HRM in general. This program fulfilled its promise and definitely prepared me for a managerial role or a career in human resource management. I gained a great deal of useful knowledge and it was so interesting to be introduced to so many different cross-culture perspectives on the subject, being that it was and international summer program with students from all over the world.

Click here for the link the Aarhus University’s home page

Overall, my summer in Denmark was a great success. I received an excellent education in a culturally rich environment. It was fantastic to reconnect with so many family members that I hadn’t been able to see in years.  Moreover, I was quite proud to have pioneered my own little study abroad program that allowed to visit relatives and experience the wonders of northern Europe.

Adventures in Japan - A Study Abroad Experience

I will never forget my time in Japan. There is something magical about taking on the role of a student in such a vastly unfamiliar country. I had never intended to study abroad in Japan or ever even entertained the idea of learning Japanese. A very helpful Study Abroad Advisor suggested the idea to me, she had studied abroad in Japan and the experience she describe to me seemed too incredible to resist. image

After spending my summer in India working with a NGO called GCSD, I hoped on a plane in New Deli and woke up in Osaka, Japan. I could barely speak a word of Japanese, I didn’t even know how to properly thank someone, which is one of the most important courtesies on a long list of essential Japanese social courtesies. Luckily, they sent a bus to pick up inept incoming students, like myself, from the airport. I sleepily stumbled onto the bus, and my journey in Japan began. 

Kansai Gaidai is a well-established International University; their Asian Studies Program annually welcomes over 600 competitively selected students who represent about 40 countries and regions.  Their program provides international students with a means of exploring Japan and Asian studies through classroom instruction and interaction with Japanese people. They have developed an excellent Japanese Language Certification Program that is geared towards helping students intermingle with the local population.

Kansai Gaidai University highly encouraged interaction between all of their students, especially across cultures. The school implements a variety of internationalization strategies in order to provide students with a better learning experience. The term internationalization strategy refers to the programs or practices that encourage genuine interaction across cultures in order to provide an environment in which domestic and international students can benefit from positive confrontations with diversity and develop mutually beneficial friendships (I coined this term in a research project that I conducted after studying abroad in Japan). Kansai Gaidai encourages students to participate in variety of programs like their speaking partner program, the homestay housing option, the international student dorm option, joining a club, and participating in their International Festival.

Speaking partner programs match study abroad students with domestic students on campus or in the community for language support and cultural exchange. I became good friends with my Japanese speaking partner and her family, and we still keep in touch to this day.  I chose not to take advantage of the homestay option because of my initial lack of knowledge regarding Japanese language and culture. Homestay is a housing option that is offered in many different study abroad programs around the world.  Instead of living in a dorm or apartment, students may consider living with a host family; this is a very effective method for increasing interaction with native speakers. There are many advantages to homestay; students interact daily with locals, they get first-hand experience with the customs that on-campus students may only learn about in class, students will practice the language with native speakers in their day-to-day lives, eat authentic homemade meals provided by their host family, and the list goes on.

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I chose instead to live in the international dorms, which house students from all over the world as well as native Japanese students. Housing native students and international students together is a great practice for promoting genuine interaction. Living with native students helps international students to develop genuine friendships with members of the host population; unlike speaking partner programs or group activities, which can sometimes feel forced.  International dorms provide a very rich intercultural setting for building cultural competence and intercultural communication skills, on a global scale. Often students gain more than just knowledge of the culture of the host country because living in an international dorm or can provide a great deal of knowledge about other cultures for around the globe.  In my dorm room alone, we had students from the US, Japan, the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Korea.

Kansai Gaidai also encouraged all students to join an on-campus club. I joined the Hiking Club and I think that was one of the best decisions I made in Japan. We had such amazing experiences together getting lost all over the countryside. The Japanese students were able to bring us to places that few foreigners know about, local secrets so to speak. As a member of this club, I had some of the most incredible experiences of my life and I know I will never forget my Japanese hiking adventures.

Students were also encouraged to participate in the International Festival, where they could share food, sports, traditions, and more, from their native cultures. This event was a big success and an excellent way to promote interaction between all students across cultures.  
This was a life-changing experience that is very difficult to put into words. I had so many incredible, funny, scary, beautiful, unbelievable experiences in my short time in Japan. I made lifelong friends and memories, and gain a true appreciation for culture that really is like no other. 

Click link for Kansai Gaidai’s home page

I can’t forget to mention that I made a pit stop to visit some family friends in Hong Kong on my way home and also found time to stop by Shanghai. Asia is an amazing continent I encourage everyone to go visit at least once.



Interning in India - Global Citizen for Sustainable Development (GCSD)

imageFor as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to travel to India (I think it might have something to do with elephants; they were my favorite as a child). I also always knew that I wanted to study abroad, ever since I found out that such a thing existed.  During my junior year at UAlbany, when the time came to choose my study abroad destination, I decided I didn’t want to go to a popular study abroad local like England, Spain, or Australia. I was all geared up for an adventure, and I want to go somewhere that would be challenging and at times uncomfortable, somewhere unexpected and maybe a little dangerous; so of course my first choice was India. image

I began the process of applying to study abroad, and to my dismay, I found that the US and Indian school year calendars do not align very well at all.  If I were to study abroad in India, it would put a serious hitch in my educational plans at UAlbany; there would be no way I could graduate in the amount of time that I had originally planed to. Fortunately, I met with a very kind and helpful Study Abroad Advisor who informed me of a brand new summer program they were launching in Bangalore, India. Students could intern with an NGO called Global Citizen for Sustainable Development (GCSD). As an intern, I would be responsible for administrative and marketing duties as well and participating in the NGO’s ongoing community service projects; I was sold! I didn’t even have to think twice about it. However, I still wanted to spend a full semester abroad, so my very helpful Advisor suggested that I consider a program located in Osaka, Japan. When she was a student this was the place she studied abroad and fell in love with, and since I would already be on the other side of the world it seemed very convenient. Again, I was sold! But I’ll save the rest of that story for my next post. 
imageIn my role as an intern for GCSD, I was responsible for completing general administrative tasks and day-to-day activities, as well as marketing activities. All of the interns were responsible for coordinating with our volunteers and the other organizations we worked with, as well as looking for new projects to take on. On the marketing front, we acted as GCSD ambassadors and also managed GCSD’s website and social media presence. By the end of my time with GCSD we were able to organize a large international event called The Global Citizens Youth Assembly; students and leaders came from all over India, Nepal, Kuwait, China, Russia, the UK and US, and the list goes on.  This event brought awareness to our cause, and we were able to accomplish some major fundraising goals.  

imageIn my role as a volunteer for GCSD, I had the amazing opportunity to go to local orphanages in Bangalore and teach English to the children there. We also had a ton of fun playing games with the little ones and organized sports days for the older kids. It was a blast! Midway through my time with GCSD I volunteered to go out on a building project in rural Bangalore. We helped to build homes, infrastructure, and restrooms in struggling rural communities.image

Lastly, in my role as a student, in order to receive college credit I had to write several hefty papers on a variety of topics from my cultural experiences in India, to marketing for NGOs & NPOs, to sustainable development and what it means to be a global citizen. Every moment of every day I spent in India was an educational experience. I gained valuable skills and knowledge, and I learned more than I can express in words; but I will try.  I grew exponentially as a person and truly learned the meaning of the word humanity. I also discovered my sincere passion for community service and sustainability. I should also mention that my love affair with yoga began in India.  My favorite things about who I am today, all took root in India (that’s the best way I can put it).imageIn the end, when all was said and done, it was one of the most incredible and unforgettable experiences of my life. India is an amazing country with a rich culture, but the team I worked with and the amazing individuals I met along the way is what made the journey as awe-inspiring as it was. I was fortunate enough to have my family come and meet me in New Deli at the end of my time with GCSD, together we saw all of the amazing sights that northern India has to offer, but my heart will always be in Bangalore. image

Click this link for the Global Citizen for Sustainable Development Website

Click this link for an India Times Article written about our We Build Team.

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Reflections from a Marketing Intern - HDR Inc.

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In my sophomore year of college, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a special internship program within the Communication Department at UAlbany. I received 15 credits for completing a full-time internship, as well as a heavy load of related course work.  I was also very fortunate to be hired by HDR Inc., at their Pearl River, NY offices.
HDR is an international employee-owned firm that provides architectural, engineering, consulting, construction and related services through their various operating companies. For the most part, the primary responsibility of all HDR employees is to help their clients manage complex projects and make sound decisions. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of HDR’s marketing team in Pearl River.
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The marketing team I worked with was responsible for creating presentations for potential clients, which demonstrated why HDR was the best firm to take on their particular project. There were three main components to my job at HDR; creating project write-ups, updating internal resumes, and helping with the design of presentations for project proposals.
When a project was completed, I read over the project manager’s summary, the entire team’s comments, and any other related literature in order to create a project write-up that encapsulated what that particular project accomplished, as well as all other important aspects of the project.  When my write-up was approved, it was added to HDR’s catalog of completed projects and then linked to the internal resumes of the employees who worked on that project. I also had the less thrilling responsibility of asking everyone in the office to update his or her resume (which no one likes to do).  Then I would upload those updated resume to HDR’s internal system. I was also in charge of reading over all of the resumes before I uploaded them to check for any errors.  This was a very tedious process, but when all was said in done I was grateful for all of the editing experience because it helped me to become a better written.
As a Marketing Intern, I had the opportunity to help with the design of various presentations for project proposals. I love designing and piecing together presentations and it was a lot of fun to work with such an enthusiastic and inventive group. I had the good fortune to work with this team on the winning proposal for the design of the Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement; this is the longest bridge in New York State, crossing the Hudson River at one of its widest points. This was a very exciting team accomplishment.
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During my time as a Marketing intern for HDR I gain valuable marketing experience and a discovered my passion for the field of marketing. I encourage all students to seek out and take on as many internships as they can; something’s can’t be learned in a class room, and interning can be a very constructive and rewarding experience.
Click for the links to the Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement Design Summary, and the Press Release, which announced that HDR would be the Lead Designer.
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Field Reporting for ATV 360° - The University at Albany’s News Station

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In my sophomore year at the University at Albany I decided check out the University News Station, ATV 360°, and see if a future in broadcasting was for me. I signed on as a field reporter, which turned out to be a much heftier task than I had originally imagined.
As a field reported for ATV 360° I was responsible for all aspects of creating a report; so I had to find my story, produce it, film it, edit it, and then present it to the ATV 360°directors, anchors, fellow field reporters, and anyone else who was present in the editing room at that time. If my story made the cut, which fortunately it always did, it was aired on the University’s News Station. Throughout out the semester I submitted 3 field reports and learned ton about what goes into putting on a regular news cast, it’s a HUGE undertaking.
 
Alas, I decided that field reporting was not for me, but in the end I was very grateful for the experience.  I gained the type of knowledge and skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. When I was filming, I had to push myself to be outgoing and go up to random people that were passing by and ask them to be a part of my segment. I gained a lot of confidence and really sharpened my social skills, as well as my presenting and public speaking skills. Through the interviews I conducted, I was able to meet so many great faculty, staff members, and student leaders that I would have never had to opportunity to meet otherwise. I also learned a ton of interesting facts about the inner workings of UAlbany through my own news stories, as well as everyone else’s. Learning how to edit film using Final Cut Pro is yet another valuable skill that I am thankful for gaining.
When all was said and done, I had a great time! I would encourage any students who might possibly be interested in a career in broadcasting to go check out their school’s TV and radio programs. You can’t go wrong; either you’ll love it and you can begin to build your portfolio, and if you don’t love it, you’ll still learn plenty of valuable lessons as you stumble along.
The link below will bring you to the videos of my field reports, please keep in mind that I was only a sophomore in college :)
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