Studying Abroad: Much More than Classes and Tours; A First-Person Account
By Josh Vankooten
TAMPA (December 12, 2019) -- I never expected this, but the trip abroad as part of the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program last month did more than just show me how the business of marketing works across the pond. Sure, we participated in a marketing case study, took tours of corporations and sports franchises and were called upon to maneuver in a foreign country. It taught us how to be actual business people on a global stage. We all sort of expected that.
But something else happened, something more profound. I discovered that the interactions with my classmates and faculty forged a new trust and deeper connections within the cohort. I don’t believe you could find a single student who went on the trip who would tell you the experience didn’t change their understanding of the world and themselves.
The reasons I joined the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program were many. They included the paid fellowships, access to the top-notch faculty, the dual-degree curriculum, the vast alumni and professional connections.
What I never counted on was the exposure to the global experience during the international trip in the second year and how it would affect me. It wasn’t even among my top five reasons for enrolling in the program. It honestly felt more like a cherry-on-top bonus to all the other benefits offered here.
But now, I realize the value of taking this overseas trip. And, I can say without a trace of uncertainty that it was the most impactful experience I have had or will have in the program. I will never forget returning home after a 13-hour flight, opening my apartment door and having that rush of emotions and the realization of how much growth and development I had just undergone.
During my time abroad, I was forced to quickly learn how to navigate foreign cities on their public transit systems and converse in a non-English speaking country. Fully inclusive tours of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Kia Cricket Oval, Wanda Metropolitano and Selhurst Park walked us through the drastic differences and interesting similarities between American and European sports.
An intensive marketing case study and presentation for the Harlequins Women’s Rugby Team in Twickenham, London, challenged us to learn about international marketing and sponsorship. Trips to the British Museum, the Prado Museum and a river cruise on the Thames in London familiarized us with the history, culture and people of our host country.
When I applied to the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program, I had visions of a career path and personal growth that I had hoped to achieve by the time I graduate. What’s funny is none of the visions ever included what I would learn, remember and feel during that global trip.
The confidence and maturity I came back with will fuel my job search and decrease my anxiety about the next chapter of my life after graduation.