Published on February 8, 2017 | by Austen Demerling Photography by Austen Demerling1
Travel can give an edge to students seeking jobs
Not everybody takes a break from their education after final exams in April.
The University of Guelph-Humber offers 10 study abroad trips in May, one of which will take students to Ireland to learn about how political beliefs can divide a country.
“I think it’s always worthwhile to see how other justice systems operate, how policing works in other countries and it’s eye-opening to see what problems other people are dealing with because it makes you a better justice professional,” said Emma Kelly, a third-year justice studies student.
Kelly went on the trip after her first year at Guelph-Humber. She spoke at length about Ireland’s history of terrorism, counter-terrorism, policing and “the troubles,” the three-decade long conflict that arose out of political and territorial disputes.
That rich political history is a big reason why Ireland has been a destination for this justice-oriented trip four times already. Dr. Glenn Hanna, assistant program head of justice studies, leads the trip. He also spoke on “the troubles,” and about the importance of keeping the peace so that society in Canada doesn’t fall to the low point that Ireland once did.
“Even today, there is still violence that occurs in Northern Ireland because of the divide between communities and their different ways of thinking,” said Hanna. “It’s important for us to ensure that everybody feels they have a voice, that all groups feel they have a seat at the table, that people are listened to … that we don’t have an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality.”
Students learn through lectures, tours and by talking with locals about the steps that were taken to restructure Ireland into a more unified whole.
A trip like this is more than just an opportunity to see the world, though. It’s also an important personal investment. “You are standing out in front of everybody else with that study abroad perspective,” said Amandeep Singh, a career support peer at Guelph-Humber. Singh works with students to help them develop skills necessary for life after graduation, like writing an effective cover letter and resumé.
Students can use their travel experience as a point of conversation during an interview, making the dialogue more natural, organic and interesting for a potential employer. Singh said that international businesses like to see adaptability in potential employees and that one day, being able to cite travel experience might be more important than a high GPA during a job search. “It’s not a necessity, but it does put you in a really good cushion to get that interview, to get the job,” Singh said.
On top of that, Hanna said that the trip teaches students important observation skills and research methods than can be applied later in life.
“Between keeping notes while I was there and writing a paper afterwards, I feel like I definitely retained a lot of information,” said Kelly, who is currently doing a semester abroad at Ulster University in Northern Ireland.
Hanna said that he would like to continue using Ireland as a study abroad destination every other year, while visiting other countries in between. Past trips have included Italy and Scotland.