Category Archives: Elizabeth VanDerwerker ’07

Elizabeth VanDerwerker ’07: Gaining an international perspective Part 3

Elizabeth (on left) with friends

Elizabeth (on left) with friends

Wow! Time continues to fly.

It seems like only last week that I was nervously riding my bright orange bicycle to my first day of class in the Netherlands. Now I am completing my final assignment of the second semester here at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England. Though I have almost completed my classes, I am still very interested in remaining in England.

I am currently applying for a part-time summer position in London so I can gain some professional experience before looking for a full-time job after I complete my dissertation in late August. I have chosen to focus both my dissertation and my internship search in the field of financial communications.

Many people that I speak with about my decision are surprised by it and inevitably they ask, “Are you sure you want to enter the financial world right now? It is such a mess.” It is this “mess” that has drawn me to pursue a career in financial communications. I believe this is the best time to enter this field because of the changes that are taking place. Working in financial communications will provide a great learning opportunity for me.

So, with this plan in mind, I have begun sending my resume (or CV as it is called here) to different financial communications agencies in London. As with any similar job search, I have received a number of replies from companies thanking me for my interest but also stating that they are not currently taking interns.

Luckily, I also have received several responses inviting me to take part in the next phase of the application process. While it is too early to tell if any of these leads will turn into an internship opportunity, I remain hopeful and look forward to the life ahead of me.

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Elizabeth VanDerwerker ’07: Gaining an international perspective Part 2

elizabeth-vanderwerker-07-photo-for-entry-2As the halfway point of my second semester of graduate school in England arrived, I was beginning to feel that despite having a wonderful house that I share with three classmates, my true home had become the university library.

I have been spending endless days and nights there doing group work while also trying to complete individual assignments. One of my roommates, Laura, and I decided that something had to be done about this! Since I arrived in the Netherlands, my biggest regret has been that I have not done as much travelling as I had hoped. I quickly agreed when Laura suggested that we take a day trip.

After flipping though our Lonely Planet guidebooks, we decided to go to Leeds. The next day, Laura and I got to the station early to buy our tickets. After a 2½-hour train ride, we arrived in Leeds. We walked out of the station ready to conquer the city only to discover that neither of us had brought along a map, book or any tourist information. This would panic many people, but we decided to just make the best of it and started walking around with confidence that we would eventually find something we had read about in our books the night before. Luckily, our plan worked, and we spent the afternoon visiting museums, shops and other tourist attractions.

Exhausted after a full day of touring, Laura and I decided to relax and enjoy some tapas at a Spanish restaurant we had passed earlier in the day. While eating, we began talking about our time in the United Kingdom so far. During this conversation, I realized that I really feel at home in England. It was then that I was reminded of my experience three years ago when I spent a summer in London as part of Elon’s internship program. I realized England is a country where I can see myself really starting a life.

When we arrived home later that night, I found myself pushing my books aside to begin searching for career opportunities in the United Kingdom. While I know that it will be difficult to find a job in England, especially given the current job market, I am now certain that I do not want my international experience to end when my course is over.

Meet Elizabeth VanDerwerker ’07: Gaining an international perspective

Elizabeth VanDerwerker '07 (center)

Elizabeth VanDerwerker '07 (center)

The moment had arrived yet again. For the third time in two years, I was faced with the daunting task of fitting my entire life into two oversized (and always $50 overweight) duffle bags.

The first time was when I moved to Quito, Ecuador, following graduation to teach English for a year. The second time was when I travelled to the Netherlands for the first semester of my master’s degree program. Recently, I packed for a third time for England, where I will spend the next eight months completing my master’s in international applied communication at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England. Although packing for this journey was no easier than the previous two times, there was something very different about my feelings concerning the move. At first I could not put my finger on it, but when I was on the airplane halfway across the Atlantic, it hit me! I realized I felt more confident because of my classmates.

During my first semester of graduate school in Utrecht, Holland, I had the opportunity to get to know my 21 classmates, who are from around the world. After three months, I realized that I had learned as much from them as I had from the professors teaching the courses. Whether it was how people from India perceived Barack Obama’s presidential acceptance speech, or how those in Ghana practice public relations, I constantly found myself seeing things I thought I understood in a very different light.

As the current semester in England unfolds, I realize that I am not only learning more from these extraordinary people, I’m also changing as a result of being around them. Whether we are discussing Habermas in the classroom, on the train travelling to visit a nearby city or simply eating dinner at the neighbourhood pub, my international classmates have given me an experience like no other.

I feel both anxious and excited when I think about the six months I have remaining with them, but there is one thing I know for certain: when it is time to pull my duffle bags back out from under my bed, the items that fill them may be the same, but I know I will not.