Wednesday, October 31, 2018

From Hofstra to South Africa: The Journey of a Liberal Arts Student

As a global studies major, I often get asked what I can do with a liberal arts major like mine. My answer: anything! More and more organizations are looking for well-rounded employees who can work in a fast, interdisciplinary environment and having a major in the liberal arts can prepare you for just that. In fact, my experiences in liberal arts helped me to get an internship this past summer.

Through a joint program with Hofstra’s Zarb School of Business and the Geneen Charitable Trust, I was able to get my dream internship. Thanks to the Trust, the program was fully funded! I interned in Johannesburg, South Africa at a branch of AstraZeneca, a multinational pharmaceutical company. I worked on their corporate social responsibility initiative (CSR) called Phakamisa, which means “to uplift” in Zulu. This CSR helps to increase education, access, and capacity surrounding breast and prostate cancer in South Africa, an issue of increasing concern in the country. I met with a variety of healthcare workers, patients, and NGOs to help grow the CSR and make sure that Phakamisa’s mission was achieved. 

Even though I was working full-time, I still managed to find time to explore Johannesburg, play with lions (not even joking!), see the beautiful clear blue ocean in Cape Town, and spend time with my new South African friends. I learned so much during my time in South Africa – about the country, about corporate social responsibility, about healthcare, and about myself. I feel more prepared than ever for a job in my field and for starting life after college.

Here are four suggestions I have which helped me get my internship:

1. Network, network, network
If you’re anything like me you cringe at this word. It always made me so nervous to think about! But the truth is that networking is crucialif you want to get your dream job or internship. I wouldn’t have even known about the internship I had this summer if my professor and boss hadn’t told me about it and put me in contact with the right people. Plus, now that I am graduating soon and looking for jobs in the “real world”, I am reaching out to all the people I networked with over the summer to help me find a job.

2. Take risks
Applying to internships and jobs can be nerve-wracking, especially if they are going to be very challenging experiences. But it is alwaysbetter to take the risk and apply for the ones that you really want. I came close to not applying for the internship in South Africa because I was so nervous, but submitting that application turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

3. Get involved in something you’re passionate about
I think it’s a myth that you have to get involved in a lotof activities. Choose a couple qualityactivities that you are passionateabout. These activities will prepare you for a job in the future and you can use them as a speaking point during an interview. It’s much easier to talk to potential employers about something you are passionate about and had a really meaningful experience doing, rather than a bunch of activities that you did just because you thought you had to.

4. Pair your major with a minor
I’ve found that it’s better to have a diverse mix of skills and one way to develop this is to add a minor. In addition to my global studies major, I have minors in community health, geography, and management. This makes it easier for me to make the case to employers on why I am prepared for and can succeed in any field, whether it be business or healthcare. Choose something you have always wanted to study and you may be surprised where it will take you!

Hopefully this has helped inspire you to go out there and get your dream internship or job! Good luck!!

Julianna Cirafesi
Senior Global Students Student 

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