Volunteer abroad fair offers students new opportunities

Written by: Michelle Welling, Staff Writer Sonoma State STAR

The Spring 2015 Work Intern Volunteer Abroad Programs Spring Fair brings a world of opportunities to Sonoma State University’s doorstep. The Work Intern Volunteer Abroad Spring Fair comes to Sonoma State University at a time when students are planning for future years of their undergraduate degree, and many, preparing for life after graduation. 

The fair features representatives from numerous organizations offering opportunities to participate in work or volunteer positions outside the United States. Tabling will take place April 22 in Salazar Quad from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by program discussion panels at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. in International 106. Those interested are encouraged to visit the event Facebook page for more details.

All students are welcome to attend the Spring Fair and the international nature of the event is expected to draw an exciting and diverse crowd. The team at Work Intern Volunteer Abroad Programs have organized a line-up of 15 organizations with programs all around the world. 

Some of the attendees include representatives from Peace Corps, International Cooperation Education, the Foundation for Sustainable Development, Global Student Embassy and African Conservation Experience and more. The event offers students the chance to speak to Work Intern Volunteer Abroad program alumni about their experiences, and voice their personal interest or questions about going abroad.

The fair is an opportunity for students to see alternative opportunities of getting abroad, outside of academic study. Though through many of the programs students are still able to earn academic programs, the opportunity to work, intern, volunteer or teach is a unique opportunity to spend time abroad. Especially since in many cases students are able to get experience in their chosen career field.

“I always enjoy these events because I like the possibilities and optimism that comes with opportunities to go abroad,” said Hope Ortiz, international and exchange programs adviser. “It is always a fun and interesting gathering of people from many different backgrounds and fields, [though] with common interests in culture, global politics, environmental issues and the desire to experience something outside of their cultural bubble.”

What’s more, there are benefits to international experiences that go beyond fulfilling wanderlust. With employment after graduation at the forefront of many student minds, opportunities to enhance resumes become crucial. The experience of working abroad showcases the ability to adapt to new cultures, perform in dynamic situations in other cultures and work well under pressure. 

UC Merced released the findings that 97 percent of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49 percent of college graduates found employment in the same period.

Another concern for students is the matter of time. One reservation many students face that inhibits experiences abroad, is the fear that studying or working internationally will delay their graduation time - or, if a student is near graduation, or has recently graduated, they may feel there are no suitable international programs available. However, many of the programs that will be present on April 22 specialize in working with students who are about to graduate or are recent graduates.

“If you feel it’s too late to go abroad, I say just come by to the fair, or even to international hall and speak with Ihssan - the program’s director - to check out your options,” said Kio Crosby, fourth-year Hutchins senior, and student ambassador for work intern volunteer abroad at the center for international education. “There is a program just for you and it is never too late to go abroad.”

Students of all years and majors are encouraged to attend the Work Intern Volunteer Abroad Programs Spring Fair, as well as the various information sessions that follow in International Hall, to get well-acquainted with all the international opportunities offered. For more details on the event and prizes for participation, see the Facebook page for WIVA Spring Fair 2015.