Maximise your Study Period Abroad (SPA) experience – join a society

By Fabio Cozzolino, Student at Regent’s University London

One of the reasons why I chose the BA (Hons) International Business programme at European Business School London (EBSL) was because of the opportunity to do a Study Period Abroad (SPA). An international experience with an open mind-set is greatly appreciated by employers. Competition is fierce out there, especially as many graduates have international backgrounds, such as the student body here at Regent’s University London. So how can students use their SPA effectively in order to stand out from the crowd? I will try to answer this question by using my current SPA experience at ESB Reutlingen in Germany as an example.

Societies

As I am an extremely active member of different societies back at Regent’s, I was curious to know how societies work in universities in Germany. So the first thing I did was to get in touch with the Student Union to find out about the active societies on campus. I then contacted the societies that interested me the most, such as ESB Model United Nations, ESB Student Consulting and ESB Entrepreneurs. One particular society came back to me with the opportunity to apply for a Project Manager position for one of their consulting projects (Pro Bono Business Consulting for SMEs in Germany). I applied immediately and managed to get the position, which has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Project Managers at ESB student consulting get to participate in a one day training event at a major consulting company and further workshops such as how to build effective presentations delivered by an ex-Mckinsey consultant. You get internal membership advantages, real exposure to business problems and make connections with entrepreneurs from Germany and abroad.

This experience can definitely make a student stand out, and after doing some research, I discovered that almost every top university in Europe offers these kinds of societies. So take advantage of this opportunity and enquire about membership as soon as you move on to your new campus.

Networking

I would also advise you to network as much as possible with members of these societies as you will find that they are just as ambitious as you are and can be really well connected with firms in the SPA target nation.  In my case, I built a good relationship with my consulting team, which turned out great for me as one of the consultants had connections at BMW in-house consulting. He sent me some vacancies that were not even out on the BMW website yet and will send my CV directly to his BMW contact.

I suggest you get involved in societies and university initiatives at one of Regent’s University London partner institutions – many students manage to secure an interview just by making good use of their network. Do not limit that to just students either – get talking to professors and other departments at the host institution and remember that hard work always pay off.

Get Involved

If you really want to gain the skills that can help you land your dream job, then a well-structured SPA experience is the right way to proceed. Do not avoid university activities and join as many societies as you can. You will be surprised by the results!

By doing so you get access to a platform to improve your employability skills, develop contacts needed to succeed, plus the opportunity to meet new people and make a lot of good friends.

If you’re interested in finding out more information (especially on ESB Reutlingen), just contact me via LinkedIn and I will be more than happy to provide you with my insight on societies, activities and job opportunities in Germany.

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