For most American students, November starts the countdown to endless turkey, Black Friday shopping, and cheesy Christmas carols on every radio station, but for any Drexel student on the fall/winter cycle, November just signifies the daunting task of co/op applications and the unnerving feeling of awaiting interview requests. But what’s the only thing worse than applying for co/ops? Well, that’s quite simple… applying for co/ops while studying abroad.
Sure, England is only five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in America, which may not seem like a lot, but when it comes to coordinating interviews from abroad, suddenly the time zone difference plays a much larger role. For example, just the other day I had my first video interview for a hospitality position that I applied to at a beachfront hotel in New Jersey. In order to find a time that worked for both the interviewer and myself, we had a 2 hour window to squeeze in a call after I was done with classes for the day but before the work day in America was not over.
In addition to the awkward time difference, I quickly discovered the other inconveniences of applying for co/ops while abroad:
- I have no business professional/ business casual clothing to wear for a video interview.
- I have to complete any interview from my cramped, barren and unprofessional dorm room… what a view!
- Any follow up in-person interview must be completed during the very narrow window of when I land in America (December 21st) and when co/op selections are due (early January)
- Gathering requested materials like recommendation letters and sample pieces of writing is extremely difficult
- All interviews must be completed on a video conferencing app, otherwise international fees will apply. Be sure to bring this up in an email to the employer before you plan to chat.
But don’t panic just yet! Long distance interviews are not all bad. Working around the study abroad barrier with your interviewer automatically gives you a talking point. Not to mention, studying abroad is an easy transition to market yourself to any employer. Whether you choose to market your worldly and cultural explorations, independence and going outside of your comfort zone, or even just the best international dish you have tried so far, you will more than likely stand out to the employer as soon as the conversation begins. Sure, applying for co/ops abroad can be quite stressful, but my advice to you is to leverage the international barrier as a competitive advantage and a way to spark conversation.