Tell me a little about yourself, Nicole! What did you study at Davenport, and what are you doing now?
I got my bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice and was worked for the State of Michigan in the Child Welfare Spector since 2008. I was always interested in the business side of things, especially working in the Child Welfare Sector; it is clear that if you want to make changes, you have to start at the business end of things. I decided to get my MBA, after hearing the State of Michigan had a partnership with Davenport. I was working full-time and had three kids under the age of five, including a newborn, and I think maybe I was sleep-deprived when I decided to get my master’s. I was going to most online courses from 10 PM to 1 AM and then waking up to go to work. Shortly after my MBA wrapped up in 2019, I started applying for new jobs, and I ended up getting a job with Stryker. I have been with Stryker since November and recently got promoted as a senior quality systems analyst for their medical division. I certainly credit my Davenport education and study abroad experience to my success today. It was incredible.
How did you hear about studying abroad?
As I was getting near the end of my program, I saw the opportunity come through an email for the study abroad program. I jokingly brought it up to my husband, like how cool would it be to go to Europe, and it was always kind of a dream of mine. He encouraged me to do it.
What made your study abroad experience so unique?
The people that we met, the tour guides, and the business leaders were great at sharing their culture and history. We learned so much about day-to-day life on a deeper level. As a result of studying abroad, we were able to get immersed in the culture and history in a way that you might not get traveling by yourself. Our group varied in ages, backgrounds, and degrees, but we developed a bond that can’t be broken. I don’t think you could even put a price tag on an experience like that.
Do you keep in touch with anyone from your trip?
We haven’t been able to get together but have kept in touch through social media. There are two girls that I’ve seen get engaged recently from our group, and many of us have kids. I’m very much looking forward to the day we can get together again.
Do you feel like it made you hungry to travel more? Where would you want your next international trip to be?
Absolutely! I would love to go to Ireland and Spain. My brother-in-law is from Morocco, so maybe just exploring Africa would be fun. Europe was the most breathtaking gorgeous place I think I have ever been, and I would love to go back and see those mountains again.
What would you say is one thing that every participant should know before studying abroad?
I would say let go of some of the fears that might hold you back. The whole trip was so well planned, and the university provides so much information to prepare you. Once you get there, if you wanted to do something independently, you were given the resources to make it happen. Everything is well-planned, and everybody’s so helpful.
What skills did you develop while abroad, and how have those skills helped you in your professional experience?
The experience prepared me for working with global suppliers to understand and respect our cultural differences. We had the chance to see different cultural aspects of the industry. It was eye-opening for me; I know that there are a lot of places where women are not treated equally, but some of the more modernized places like Switzerland and Germany I thought were farther along than the US. You assume everybody is on the same playing field, and sometimes unless you experience it first-hand, you don’t realize the cultural differences.
In your experience, what do you think is the greatest benefit is of studying abroad?
You’re learning and experiencing things that can’t be taught in a classroom. I could learn about every business aspect in a class, but I can’t appreciate how that same business aspect applies to different cultures. I would highly recommend studying abroad if you want to work for a company that has a global market. Understanding and respecting different business cultures is a huge benefit because I know I need to do my research and tailor my approach when working with different international business markets. I will 100% encourage my children to take advantage of studying abroad.
To make a gift to support international experiences at Davenport please visit davenport.edu/give. Or contact Megan Shepherd, Assistant Director of Annual Giving at email@example.com, or call 616-233-3416.