Don’t Just Study Abroad—Intern Abroad!

From Munich to Kyoto, Champlain Students Interned Around the World This Summer

At Champlain College, students don’t just study abroad—they intern abroad. Doing so takes their experience, and growing expertise, a step further. They simultaneously adapt to a new culture and enter the global workforce, giving them a diverse skillset and a deeper understanding of a new place they’re excited to call home.

During the fall and spring semesters, Champlain students study and intern abroad at our satellite campuses in Montreal, Canada and Dublin, Ireland, as well at a handful of other locations. But in the summertime, students impressively trade New England beaches for bustling cities in China, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, England, and now: Kyoto, Japan.

“It’s really amazing to be a part of the first-ever Champlain group interning in Kyoto,” Marketing major Charlotte Bull ‘21 said. “Being able to take a step back and look at American culture from a new perspective is something that I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to do interning in the U.S.”

Marketing major Charlotte Bull ’21 sports a traditional kimono in Kyoto, Japan, where she interned in summer 2019.

Charlotte spent her summer working for yodayoda, a small start-up company that makes software for autonomous mobility and robots, specializing in road maps for self-driving vehicles. As the company’s sole Market Research Intern, she was tasked with recruiting test users for an upcoming mobile application alpha test in the U.S. She says she wore many hats throughout the process, expanding her expertise from market research to UX testing, social media advertising, branding, customer service and communication, and graphic design. The experience paired her Marketing major and Data Analytics minor perfectly—all while learning how to effectively communicate with her Japanese coworkers across a language barrier.

Down the road, Charlotte’s fellow Champlain Stiller School of Business (SSB) classmates dug into their internships at Kyoto Institute of Technology and Kyoto University. To top it all off, the five Kyoto students were granted free room and board, airfare, and a food stipend thanks to the Freeman Foundation. Since 2013, the Foundation has financially supported approximately 150 Champlain students interning in Shanghai, China. Due to its extraordinary success, Champlain and the Foundation teamed up to expand the program to Kyoto. Next year, program representatives say they hope to widen the opportunity to other Japanese cities, too.

Cultural excursions help students learn more about their new home and workplace.

In 2013, when 26 students interned abroad, Champlain College made a steadfast commitment to push for more international internships and experiential learning opportunities. 

“The first question we ask when a study-abroad student walks in the door isn’t ‘Where do you want to travel?’ It’s ‘What do you want to do in your future career?’” says Noah Goldblatt, Champlain’s Senior Director of International Education. “We learn where the student wants to be both professionally and personally, and then advise them from there.”

The first question we ask when a study-abroad student walks in the door isn’t ‘Where do you want to travel?’ It’s ‘What do you want to do in your future career?’

Noah Goldblatt, Senior Director of International Education

This career-focused, hands-on approach sets Champlain apart from other colleges. Now, one third of students who study abroad also intern abroad, meaning more than 100 students completed an international internship this past year—quadrupling the numbers from 2013. And that number is likely to continue climbing.

“We are extremely pleased to announce the Freeman grant was just renewed for another two years,” said Dr. Scott Baker, Dean of the Stiller School of Business. “The past seven years have proven that our students benefit immensely from this experience. We look forward to the ongoing growth of both the program and our students’ networking skills.”

Thanks to the Freeman Foundation, Champlain students have spent summers interning in Shanghai since 2013.

“The biggest benefit for Freeman students is experiencing how business is done in a different culture,” says Ben Wiley, Instructor of Game Production Management in SSB. “The way business is done in China or Japan is different than in the U.S., and it’s essential students be open to those approaches.”

As for Charlotte, Wiley says the scope of innovation she was able to explore at yodayoda was expansive. The company plans to launch its app in San Francisco, which means Charlotte’s knowledge about Western business and their consumer market was remarkably valuable.

The Golden Temple, or Kinkakuji, is a must-see Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Dr. Scott Baker, Dean of SSB.

Over in Munich, Champlain students intern for a German securities consultancy called ComCode. The groundbreaking transatlantic partnership between Champlain and ComCode allows students to intern at German high-tech companies and gain firsthand experience with geopolitical security, global collaboration, and knowledge sharing. 

These one-of-a-kind experiences are unique to Champlain. If it weren’t for making the decision to attend our career-focused college, students predict they wouldn’t have such enriching opportunities for personal and professional growth.

“The Career Collaborative Office at Champlain works very hard to provide engaged students with unique opportunities that help propel them in their desired fields,” says Nicholas Turner ‘20, who is double majoring in Computer & Digital Forensics and Computer Networking & Cybersecurity, with a specialization in Ethical Hacking. This summer, he worked as a Cybersecurity Analyst in Munich.

Computer & Digital Forensics major Denzel Nadim ‘20, an international student from Ghana, echoed Nicholas: “Champlain College is unique in that it promotes global awareness through its international relations courses, its study-abroad program, and its program for international students. This makes students curious about exploring other countries, as well as gaining global competence. It is a core of the education at Champlain.”

Computer & Digital Forensics major Denzel Nadim ‘20 interned abroad in Munich, Germany with ComCode in 2018 and 2019.

By inserting themselves into the global workforce, students stretch from their comfort zones and “break out of their shells,” as Charlotte puts it. The skills and maturity they gain are starkly evident when they return to our Burlington, Vermont campus says Wiley: “They’re increasingly independent and focused on their work.”

Wiley and other SSB faculty and Office of International Education staff get to see this transformation happen first-hand. Every summer, they make site visits to each Freeman student at their workplace in Shanghai, and now Kyoto. Champlain meets with the student and their supervisor to assess how the partnership is going and if the needs of both the student and company are being met.

“All students who completed the Freeman experience have done really well for themselves post-graduation,” Wiley said about Champlain alumni. “They’re extremely capable.”

Why is this? Well, when students intern abroad, they’re not just observing a new city like a tourist. They become part of the culture.

“To me, working abroad and studying abroad felt like different experiences,” said Computer Networking & Cybersecurity major Michael Dennehy ‘20, who worked in Munich this summer and previously studied in Dublin. “When working in a foreign country, you feel much more like a citizen than a tourist.”

For those looking to follow in these students’ footsteps, here’s some advice from the field-professionals themselves: Have an open mind, immerse yourself in the culture, hang out with your coworkers, be adventurous, and don’t be afraid to travel solo to see all you need to see. All in all, they suggest you do as they did: Dive head first into this life-changing experience.

Champlain College students intern in Munich, Germany each summer with ComCode, a German securities consultancy.

Interested in gaining a global perspective by studying and interning abroad with Champlain College? Contact the Office of International Education at oie@champlain.edu or visit champlain.edu/student-life/study-abroad.

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