Since studying abroad, I have had the opportunity to work as an intern in multiple countries. The experiences and differences improve both my communication skills and my engineering skills.
Mark Borst graduated in 2017 with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in international engineering from UMD. He shares how studying abroad with the Clark School enriched his education and paved his entry into the professional world. In the above photo, Mark (pictured left) poses with a fellow exchange student from a technical university in India who was on exchange in Prague.
From February to August 2016, I studied abroad in Munich, Germany at the Munich University of Applied Science (Hochschule von angewandte Wissenschaften München). The experience added to both my major and minor.
Engineering is an application of math and science which is essentially a universal language. The fundamentals of engineering are virtually the same in every culture. The differences are generally related to team work, changes in safety standards, cost of procuring materials and team dynamics. For instance, in Germany, a team that I worked with met for coffee and socialized before working exclusively on the project at hand as a team. All solo work was completed alone outside of the weekly or biweekly team meetings.
During these seven months, I learned a lot about engineering, intercultural communication, team management, cultural differences, foreign language as well as important leadership skills.
The most rewarding part of the experience was the ability to travel and meet new people. Education is not solely at the university but also takes place socially. Meeting people from different countries, with different cultural backgrounds, different religions as well as different customs is an interesting experience. I have learned things about the world, politics and culture that I would have never been exposed to otherwise. Moreover, I was able to learn how to cook new things, play new games, lead teams of people with different cultural backgrounds and even apply my foreign language skills.
I now have experience speaking both German and Spanish. On multiple occasions, I have had job interviewers who have wanted to converse with me in these languages. Even at a basic level, someone who shows interest in a foreign language can add points to a graded resume. The world is becoming more and more globalized and interdependent and speaking a foreign language or willingness to learn one to an intermediate level is very beneficial.
Since studying abroad, I have had the opportunity to work as an intern in multiple countries. The study abroad experience was not a single event, but the beginning to a series of events. I find myself very happy traveling and working in different countries. The experiences and differences improve both my communication skills and my engineering skills. I love learning from different perspectives and meeting new people with fresh ideas!