My name is Caroline Dimbleby and I graduated from UEA in 2000 with a degree in American and English Literature, including a year abroad at the University of Texas in Austin. I am now the Assistant Director of the International Office at the University of Northampton. In this role I manage a team responsible for the recruitment and admission of international students from several regions (including the Americas) and I work in different countries recruiting students and developing partnerships to raise the University’s profile and to ensure we continue to attract many international students from all over the world to study with us.
My experiences studying abroad back in 1998-9 are directly relevant to my career today and have given me a huge range of knowledge and additional skills that I use daily in my current role. To know what it is like to be an international student and having to adapt to a different culture, climate and education system, gives me the ability to relate to students interested in studying abroad and provides a depth of knowledge of a country you could never get from a short stay.
From my time in the US, I understand the resourcefulness you need as an international student and as a traveller in general, but spending a year abroad in another country cannot be compared to just ‘going travelling’. You become completely immersed in the country and the culture in a way you would never know if you were just passing through with a backpack on the way to somewhere else. You have to develop the skills to cope long term in a new environment with new people – skills which employers value greatly and which are essential for a job which takes you abroad. My academic work was valuable too – having firsthand knowledge of the US education system has been an important skill when working in international recruitment, as is the understanding of what it is like to represent an organisation and to create a positive image of the UK while overseas.
Back at college when I was filling out my UCAS application, opting for the course with the year abroad, I thought it would be a fun way of seeing a bit of the world and a chance to do something different. I never expected that it would have such a lasting impact; that it would shape my professional life and open doors for me in the way it did. Studying abroad gave me the confidence to travel and to work globally, and to have the privilege of working with people from all over the world. My year abroad has shaped my career in so many ways, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you are adventurous, ambitious, and interested in a career with a global setting, you will find that the experience of studying in another country will be invaluable, and it will reward you throughout your life, personally and professionally.