As the class of 2017 approaches the end of their time at Mount Allison, many are left standing before an abyss that holds limitless potential, but also an overwhelming amount of limitations.
Some students opt for graduate studies, while others search for the best employment options to pay off their student debt. Others yearn for the age-old cliché of wanting to “see the world,” which may manifest itself in a two-week backpacking trip booked through Hostel World and Skyscanner. Despite this, more than a few days are usually needed to truly experience a new culture.
So, how can students find and fund longer adventures after graduation?
International internships can be a lucrative way to immerse yourself in a new place and put your degree to use. Mt. A biochemistry graduate Chris Arsenault experienced this first-hand.
Arsenault spent the summer creating scientific teaching material in the public school system in Sargur, India, before returning to Mt. A this year to complete a second honours degree in philosophy.
“Everything I was doing there was informing the thesis I am now writing in philosophy about humanitarian aid,” Arsenault said. “I was giving the expertise I had in one of my degrees and taking information for the other.”
Arsenault’s best advice to students who are unsure of how to find this type of opportunity is to network. “Professors are a good source to look for any kind of experience in terms of professions,” Arsenault said, describing the many different administrators and faculty involved in developing his internship. Although Arsenault’s internship was unpaid, he was the recipient of a $10,000 Marjorie Young Bell internship grant.
The Marjorie Young Bell internship, Mansbridge internship, and Bombardier grant are all Mt. A funds designed to encourage international work experience by offering students a way to afford unpaid internships. While many of the awards are directed at third-year students, other returning students can also qualify.
The federal government designed an International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) for graduates to apply for established internship opportunities. A partner in this program, the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC), has 40 seven-month-long internships across the world for Canadian graduates. These internships pay stipends from $1,000 to $15,000 per month and have a wide range of focuses, from health to media relations to micro-finance.
Another popular pursuit is teaching English in a foreign country. Some well-known programs include the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) programme, the Canadian Connection in Korea, and the North American Language and Culture Assistants program in Spain. One advantage to these programs is their credibility due to associations with governments.
Mt. A alumnus Zachary Townsend graduated with a bachelor of arts in history and English before heading to Nice with the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). “Be prepared for a culture shock – it’s something that nearly everyone faces when moving to a new country,” Townsend said. For Townsend, the biggest adjustments included paying out-of-pocket for health care and not being able to find certain culinary favourites, like peanut butter.
Prospective French Studies graduate Shaelyn Sampson is applying to TAPIF this year. “I’m hoping to continue gaining different perspectives on the world,” Sampson said about her desire to work in a second language and travel after graduation. “I’ve travelled a fair amount already, and I find every time I do I come back with a new outlook.”
With most of Mt. A’s formal efforts on student international experiences focused on second- and third-year students, Mt. A graduates might have to work a bit harder to find financially feasible options. The best thing to do now is to research and reach out. Many deadlines are coming up and there are a myriad of resources at Mt. A; they just take some digging to find.