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Finding Your Career Path
Emily, a native of Chicago and a YES Abroad Indonesia '15 alumna, traveled a long path before arriving in her current line of work, as an insurance broker specializing in construction. “I went to the University of Illinois at Chicago. I studied integrative health science and Arabic. I was very much prepared to work in medicine, but over time I realized it was not the right life path for me. I jumped around to different jobs after school to figure out my next steps and eventually found myself where I am now, working on all sorts of infrastructure and construction projects around the world.”
Based out of Chicago, Emily got to this point in her career by trial and error. “One thing I’ve really learned over the years is how important it is to just give things a try. You never know how much you’ll enjoy something until you try it. You may absolutely hate it at the beginning, but it’s really crazy how adaptable we are.”
Adaptability is a quality YES Abroad alumni know all too well. “YES Abroad was extremely valuable for me. It really showed me how important it is to give yourself time to acclimate to new people and new experiences. I’m very adaptable now, whether that be in my career or just in my social life.”
Emily also relies on her communication and intercultural skills every day, skills she gained while living in Indonesia. “My job centers around making sure our clients are happy.” Given that her clients are based throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America, this can be a challenge when everyone communicates differently. While stakeholders may speak English, cultural upbringing plays an entrenched role in how they work. “Translating” those goals to colleagues and clients in the U.S. is an integral component of Emily’s work. “Essentially, to make sure everyone is happy, you have to understand their ‘languages’ and adapt them to make sure everyone’s on the same page and having their goals met. Also, construction and insurance language is a monster in and of itself!”
How was Emily’s experience on YES Abroad crucial for what she does now? “I’m no longer afraid of not knowing or not understanding—I’m comfortable being uncomfortable until I learn to understand." Emily’s future plans include growing in her career and having good work/life balance, another value participants often pick-up on YES Abroad! She also helps to diversify her field and to show the benefits of having that diversity.
Though Emily’s path has been circuitous, she upholds the values of YES Abroad every day and demonstrates how the skills gained on study abroad last a lifetime.