December 15, 2022

By Claire Curry

To Learn Is To Love It

This past summer, Julian Deshommes ’23 immersed himself in an international internship — and another culture and language — in the south of France.

“Working there was a really eye-opening experience,” says Deshommes, referring to his internship at Web Alternatif, a software development firm in Grenoble, located at the foot of the French Alps.

While he had visited Paris before, he preferred the lesser-known city for his internship in part so he could improve his fluency in French, a language he studied through high school and tested out of at Susquehanna. Unlike in Paris where people speak both English and French, in Grenoble, French is the primary language and the one Deshommes used exclusively to communicate at work and in all of his day-to-day interactions.

In addition to his commitment to improve his language skills, Deshommes applied his knowledge of finance to create a forecasting model that maps out the firm’s projected profits over the next three years.

Interning at a small company helped the management major, originally from Blandon, Pennsylvania, to see that his career options aren’t limited to roles in large organizations or even, for that matter, to firms based in the United States.

“I met new people, learned the language and learned a lot about startups,” he says. “The atmosphere is completely different than how it is in the U.S.”

Deshommes is among more than 75 business students whose internships abroad were fully funded over the past 15 years by the endowed Eric Stein Fund for International 

Experience, a scholarship created by a generous gift from the late Eric Stein ’69.

“The Stein Scholarship allowed me to focus on my internship and my experience,” Deshommes says. “It lifted the weight of financial burden in order for me to go abroad. It was one less thing I needed to worry about, and it made all the difference.”

Travel on the Rise

In-person international internships are on the rise at Susquehanna, and over the past year, more than 60 business students have interned throughout Europe and in Asia — in France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Vietnam — and the number continues to increase. There couldn’t be better news at the Sigmund Weis School of Business, whose January 2020 announcement of guaranteeing an international internship experience for every business student was made just before the Covid pandemic hit.

“We are back and in full swing,” says Matthew Rousu, dean of the business school, about the growing number of students traveling abroad once again to gain global business experience. “You learn a lot from an internship, and it can lead to a job offer. Studying abroad in and of itself is an amazing opportunity. When you combine them, it’s an incredibly powerful experience.”

Going Global without Leaving Home

The Sigmund Weis School of Business considers global experiences so valuable to its students’ education that when travel shut down in the midst of the pandemic, the school’s leadership responded quickly, working with the GO office and various partners to create meaningful remote alternatives.

Since 2020, more than 118 business students completed remote internships with firms in Singapore, London, Barcelona and many other cities around the globe. In addition to learning about global business and expanding their skill sets, they got crash courses in working remotely — a necessary capability in a world where the typical workplace now often includes some combination of in-person and remote models.

Thomas Dinneny ’22 credits his 2020 international internship with a fintech company in London for helping him land his dream job as a financial analyst with the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, better known as “Freddie Mac.”

Though his GO trip to study and work in London for the fall 2020 semester was canceled, Dinneny says the remote international internship, which he completed from his living room in Sterling, Virginia, delivered meaningful results. He gained real-world work experience that not only strengthened his résumé, but also helped him land a competitive internship with Freddie Mac in the summer of his junior year, which ultimately led to a job offer from the firm that kicked off his career.

“I think [the remote internship] was a huge factor,” says Dinneny, who graduated magna cum laude with dual bachelor’s degrees in finance and economics. “It also prepared me for working virtually. I think it’s a tradeoff. I didn’t get that in-person cross-cultural experience, which is unfortunate, but I did get the virtual cross-cultural and professional experience. Now that everyone’s working remotely, I’m already two years ahead.”

While the world has reopened and students are traveling once again, Rousu says that remote internships will continue to be offered. They prepare students to succeed in the new world of work — developing critical discipline and time-management skills as well as facilitating the technologies that support employees in working virtually. They also make it possible for students to begin gaining work and international experience earlier, which could help them qualify for additional internships later on.

London Calling

The most popular study-abroad program among business majors is the GO Long SWSB London Program because it combines a semester of study abroad with a parallel international internship experience. The 14-week program is also faculty led and, in addition to taking courses like Global Business Ethics and British History and Culture and working part-time in an internship related to their field of study, students get to explore the sights of London and those in surrounding countries.

The SWSB London Program began in 1995, and semester-long internships were added to the study-abroad experience in 2017, explains Katarina Keller, associate professor of economics who also serves as the business school’s executive director of international programs.

“With the internship, the students get so much more out of the experience,” she says, adding that living and working abroad not only teaches students practical skills, like navigating their way around the city on “the tube,” but it also gives them a way to showcase their capabilities in a job interview. “They can be confident and really feel good about it,” Keller says. It also sets them apart from other job candidates who have not lived and worked abroad.

Julia Adams ’23 took advantage of the opportunity to study and work abroad through the London Program in 2021. As an intern at Bayswater College, an English-language school, she worked with the student services, marketing and sales teams. Her job involved writing blog posts, planning student events, and creating marketing materials.

Adams says her favorite part of the experience was interacting with her colleagues and students who attended the school from all over the world — including Turkey, Colombia and Japan — and learning about their home countries and traditions. During her stay abroad, she also took advantage of several sightseeing adventures throughout London, Italy, France and Holland.

“The biggest thing I learned from this experience was how to navigate cultural differences in the workplace, from mannerisms to language to spelling,” says the marketing and publishing & editing dual major from Palmyra, New Jersey. “I am so grateful for the professional experience that I gained during my time abroad. I know it will continue to shape and inspire me for the rest of my life.”