Jacob Cutts was a 2nd year International Relations student from the Univeristy of British Columbia when he spent a semester in East Africa. Early on in his degree, Jacob recognized that it would be important for him to gain both internship and international experience, which is why he decided to participate in the Semester In Development.
PROBLEM: LACKING INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE, LACKING WORK EXPERIENCE
Jacob knew that for him to be competitive in the job market, he would have to gain both relevant work experience, and experience abroad.
"My main concern before I spent a semester in Uganda was that I lacked international experience. I knew that when I did apply for positions in International Development and International Relations I would be competing with people who have a lot of international experience. At the time though, I was not even sure about my ability to live abroad or how I'd handle experiencing a different culture."
SOLUTION: JACOB LEARNS FROM AND WORKS ALONGSIDE THE LOCALS
Jacob had been trying to decide whether to find an internship, continue his studies or go abroad. The Semester In Development was a perfect fit for him since it offered all three. Throughout his term in Uganda, Jacob was able to gain hands-on experience, while earning credits towards his degree, and living and travelling in a part of the world he'd never experienced, all while he was still in school.
In reflection, Jacob said that all three aspects of the program were incredibly beneficial for him.
"Being able to work for an advocacy NGO and getting experience living abroad is so valuable to me and I believe it will help me get a job that I actually want in the future.
Before participating in the program, I had learned a lot about development and I thought I understood the situations of developing countries. By taking courses taught by local professors, I got a much different perspective compared to what I'd learned at home.
Studying in Uganda, as well as getting the hands-on experience, working on the ground with locals, completely shifted my perspective on development and my understanding of what really happens in a developing country."
RESULTS: ON TRACK FOR A FULFILLING INTERNATIONAL CAREER
Jacob still has the rest of his university degree to finish, but he's already experienced tangible results since returning home from East-Africa.
"Soon after returning home, I got a co-op position at the US Consulate General that I really wanted. The people that hired me said that my Semester In Development experience was a big reason why they hired me. They don’t usually hire students coming out of 2nd year.
The program also really helped with my interpersonal relationship skills. I was put into a new environment with new people and had to learn to interact with the other students and people that I met. I really appreciated how we got a lot of support, but that there was also an element of living independently. This definitely improved my self-reliance.
Lastly, this experience really made me interested in living and working abroad. I had never lived abroad before; the Semester in Development showed me that if I do decide to pursue an international career, that there are opportunities out there and that i'm capable!"