You Want Me to Go Where? Coping on my Longest Site Visit

Laura CraigLaura Craig, Assistant Director, Internships and Experiential Education, Temple University Career Center
Twitter: @BuckeyeVirginia

We tell our students to be open to opportunity in many guises, and that it won’t always come when we expect it.  This past summer, I put that advice into practice by joining a group of colleagues to visit Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. (TUJ)  I had one and a half weeks to prepare for a 6,000 mile trip to a place I NEVER expected to visit!

The purpose of the opportunity was experiencing every facet of TUJ’s operation, in order to effectively encourage students to study abroad here.  TUJ has been in operation since 1982, and currently enrolls more than 3,300 students at the undergraduate and graduate level. They also have a sizable academic English program, continuing education opportunities, and a large credit-bearing internship program for all students.

While this was a tremendous opportunity, it didn’t come without nerves.  I’m relatively new at Temple, and didn’t know any of the other participants in my group.  The group consisted of me and academic advisers from our athletics program, school of business, school of tourism and hospitality management, honors program, school of art, and college of liberal arts.  Our work is definitely related, but we hadn’t connected yet in person. I was also nervous about navigating life in a very different culture.  I’ve traveled internationally before, but never to Asia, and also never in such a large group.  Here’s what helped make it a great trip for me:

  • Have an orientation beforehand, even if it’s not required.
    • You don’t want to meet at the airport for the first time.  An orientation, or even meeting for coffee, can help you establish rapport, ensure that your goals are complimentary, and alleviate worries about communication and emergencies.  We were going to a very unfamiliar place, so an orientation helped our group to know the basics about our host and destination, and allowed us to figure out how we would all convene at the airport.
  • Ensure everyone’s technology is up to speed.
    • When traveling and operating as a group in a foreign country, it’s vital to stay in touch.  We need to be concerned with:
      • International data and texting
      • WhatsApp
      • Staying in tune with our flights and transit
      • Using our corporate travel system’s mobile app
      • Keeping everyone’s devices powered up so that we could stay in touch
  • Don’t be afraid to take on a leadership role, but let it flow naturally.
    • When everyone is out of their element, help everyone get settled by choosing a place to eat, helping others change money, figuring out transit options, etc.
  • Share resources among the group and help people attend to basic needs on a long trip.
    • If your institution has a complex reimbursement process, put your heads together to figure out reimbursements in a foreign country and general travel policy knowledge.
  • Embrace new experiences as a group! We had two opportunities for flexible sightseeing in the company of TUJ faculty/staff, and they were the highlights of the trip. Not only did these organized outings save us time and money, they also helped give us genuine insight into the kinds of experiences our students would have at TUJ-exactly the point of our trip!

What’s the farthest business trip you’ve taken with colleagues? Have you spent time in Japan or at Japanese universities?

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About lauracraig15

Laura Craig is the Assistant Director of Internships and Experiential Education at the Temple University Career Center. Upon joining the team in March 2015, she has focused on strengthening policies and processes around internships and facilitating a greater variety of opportunities for Temple students. Prior to joining Temple, she served as the Assistant Director of Career Communities at the University of Virginia, where she assisted in developing career communities, partnered with Employer Relations to strengthen the recruiting process, and advised students about professionalism in the job search. With specialties in Symplicity CSM management and LinkedIn usage, she loves finding ways to connect people with the information they need to achieve their goals.