Smeal students share experiences abroad on Global Impact blog

University Park, Pa. – While hundreds of Penn State Smeal College of Business students are spending their summers at internships, co-ops, or summer jobs, a handful of students chose to take their talents overseas and document their experiences on Smeal's Global Impact Internships blog.

About a dozen Smeal students are writing about their experiences abroad in Australia, Bangladesh, China, France, Guatemala, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Spain, among other locations. Some of them are completing internships, while others are volunteering with nonprofits and serving the less fortunate in remote villages.

Smeal's Global Impact project is a joint initiative between the college's Office of Career and Corporate Connections and Office of International Programs. It assists students who want to gain international experience and broaden their global perspective by interning or volunteering overseas. The project's blog allows the students' classmates, families and professors to follow their global adventure online.

Antonio Bryant, a senior majoring in finance, spent the first part of the summer in Nicaragua with the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program in Penn State's College of Engineering. The students are working with the Catholic University of Nicaragua to build an economically sustainable biogas system to generate cooking fuel. The fuel system will help to reduce deforestation by minimizing the cost of cooking fuel and help keep young girls in school, rather than out foraging for fuel.

"Being the only business student amongst a large team of mechanical, civil, biological, and agricultural engineers, I took the responsibility in handling the business development side of the biogas venture," Bryant writes on the Global Impact Internships blog. "This venture was an opportunity of a lifetime to really put my academic degree to work, improve and develop my professional skills, and help those at the 'bottom of the pyramid' or those who are marginalized."

In another blog post, Dan Connell, a 2011 graduate of Smeal, describes his trip abroad helping homeless children in Nyeri, Kenya. Connell, who traveled to Kenya with Smeal Accounting Instructor Ed Babcock, is now back in the United States working for Johnson & Johnson, but postponed his start date to make the trip to Africa. Together with Babcock and students from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Connell worked with Nyeri's Children and Youth Empowerment Centre to develop business plans around sustainable food production to help the organization's children transition out of the center.

"This time over in Kenya has been quite an experience. It has touched my heart in more ways than I could have ever imagined," Connell writes in his blog entry. "I am so thankful that I have been given this opportunity to travel to help try to make a difference along with the team of highly dedicated students and faculty of Penn State."

For several of the students, the blog entries fulfill a requirement of a grant they received to assist them in their overseas projects. The Target Community Engagement and Development Program was established at Smeal by Target to assist students wishing to hone their professional skills while volunteering domestically or internationally. The grant requires 50 hours of community service at a site approved by Smeal's Career and Corporate Connections Office as well as weekly writing assignments that describe the student's career development and growth, goal progress and learning experiences. Upon completion of the service work, the students also submit a reflective paper outlining three key learning experiences from their time volunteering.

International internship opportunities are made available to students through Smeal Symplicity, the college's searchable, online internship directory. In addition to offering internship opportunities with U.S. companies in international locations, the Global Impact Internship Program works with nonprofit organizations to place students in service work overseas and with global organizations in Washington, D.C. Students also can collaborate with third-party providers that charge a fee to place them with companies that match their skills and interests.

For more information on Smeal's Global Impact Internship Program, visit ugstudents.smeal.psu.edu/careers/global-impact-internships.

Follow the experiences of this year's participants on the Global Impact Internship blog at blogs.smeal.psu.edu/globalimpact.

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Last Updated July 12, 2011