Master of Arts in International Education (On Campus)

Reflective Practice Phase

"I felt extremely prepared to work at the university level after a year on campus at SIT."

--Jessica Sztaimberg

Spotlight on Jessica Sztaimberg, MA in International Education

Jessica Sztaimberg knew she wanted a career in study abroad education, so for her SIT Graduate Institute practicum, she interned in the Education Abroad office at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia. The internship gave Jessica the opportunity to do work in reentry programming and gain experience in a university setting—something that will be valuable as she further develops her career.

For ten months, Jessica advised and supervised VCU Education Abroad scholarship recipients, ensuring that they completed their scholarship requirements, and promoted going abroad at study abroad fairs, open houses, and career fairs. She also facilitated a workshop on globalizing resumes after study abroad and worked with students participating in VCU’s international buddy program, which matches returned study abroad students with international exchange students in an effort to ease international students’ transition to life at VCU.

This internship was a natural extension of the coursework Jessica had taken during her first year on campus. "SIT provided me with a solid knowledge of international education that I was immediately able to apply to the practical experience of interning," she says. "I felt extremely prepared to work at the university level after a year on campus at SIT."

It was during this on-campus phase that Jessica became aware of a problem within the field of international education. "We talked about a lack of reentry programming a few times during my core courses at SIT. Reentry programming is typically overlooked at US institutions. Many universities do not have the time, money, and/or resources to devote to reentry. Efforts are spent recruiting the students, rather than developing their competencies when they return from their abroad programs."

It’s an issue that’s important to Jessica. "I am passionate about ensuring that students have a unique learning experience abroad because I know how valuable this experience can be. It is not enough to just send students abroad and expect that they fully understand how much they have grown and developed without facilitated efforts. Reentry programming helps students process what they learned about themselves and the world around them. This is an important piece of the puzzle and since many institutions do not require reentry programming, students just do not participate in it."

Jessica is currently working full-time as a program coordinator at CISabroad, where she is part of a team of international educators. Jessica has finished her SIT coursework and practicum phase and will complete her capstone—a redesign of an existing CISabroad culture curriculum—in July 2012. "I am excited to apply the knowledge [I gained] from SIT to my own work in the field."

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