Many Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students have the opportunity to gain international study experience, which can present them with unforgettable memories and lifelong lessons. 

But for students in the Department of Hotel Management, Hospitality and Tourism, it can be a gateway to a new career.

A group of students sitting around a restaurant table with a man standing behind. Four of the individuals are holding their coffee cups together making a toast.
Beyond unforgettable memories, studying abroad presents an array of career opportunities. (Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife)

Connor Clark, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department, said beyond the bucket-list type of experiences students can have while traveling, there is a wealth of career options and opportunities to be found when studying abroad.

“Whether you are interested in a career in hospitality or not, the act of studying abroad qualifies you as a tourist and is a great opportunity to learn about tourism experiences in different countries,” Clark said.

Studying abroad presents new experiences and new opportunities

Studying abroad is often regarded as a highlight of many students’ college experience, but it can be much more than a fun trip for students planning to enter the hospitality industry. Between industry visits on faculty-led programs and enriching lectures on new topics, embarking on an international education trip can open doors and teach students about new opportunities. 

With firsthand knowledge, Clark said his study abroad in Latin America changed the trajectory of his career and allowed him to connect deeply with the culture.

“In my experience, studying abroad led to my whole career focusing on Latin American culture and hospitality,” he said. “I use my experience as a tool every day in my work.” 

Learning career-specific skills and beyond

Two individuals sitting at a table while a waiter brings their drinks. One of the individuals is sipping from a coffee cup.
Students learn how to effectively serve tourists through study abroad experiences. (Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife)

Exposure to different cultures and clientele enhances students’ ability to effectively serve tourists in their careers, Clark said.

One event management program in Scotland, led by Donna Lee Sullins, Ed.D., instructional assistant professor in the department, gives students foundational knowledge in event planning and management. Students attend four area festivals while volunteering alongside locals and get hands-on experience while refining their skills of venue evaluation and selection.

Clark also said if a student is studying where English is not spoken, learning a new language can help them become a global citizen and expand their job opportunities. He added that immersing yourself in a new language is the best way to learn.  

“There are different customs, expectations and values that tourists have, and studying abroad and gaining knowledge of language will be invaluable in a career in hospitality,” Clark said.

Getting comfortable with the unfamiliar through studying abroad

While many students may feel nervous about leaving the comfort of the Bryan-College Station area, studying abroad presents them with personal development experiences that are unique to international travel. 

Travel abroad programs provide some of the most enriching learning practices, and can teach students about themselves and their majors, while exposing them to other cultures and career paths, Clark said. 

“It may be a little uncomfortable to embark on something unfamiliar,” Clark said. “But being able to get to know people and build real relationships with the local people and see how they live is an invaluable benefit.” 

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