[Editor’s note: from time to time, we check in on what our alums have been doing since they graduated. We are grateful to Kate Frangos for contributing this article.]
If I could go back in time and tell my former 22-year-old self that after graduation I would end up working in several European countries, I would probably laugh with disbelief. However, the journey to get there didn’t happen overnight. Let me start by saying what I did before I left the United States, mainly my time well spent at Lesley University.
When I graduated in 2012 as a Communications Major, I was equipped with all the right resources to get started in the “real-world.” I honed my writing skills, built my communication skills, and put into practice all the methods, theories, and techniques that I learned from the excellent faculty at Lesley. During my studies, I interned for two small companies in Boston, learned how to write press releases, designed eBooks with inDesign, blogged, created Google Adwords ads, and so much more. My final thesis was based on a real prototyped app (about cross-cultural communication) that I created from a class at the College of Art and Design.
I was motivated, inspired, and felt that I was ready to take on the world post-graduation. I had this cliche mantra in my head, “it’s what you make of it, no matter the circumstances,” which I still believe in today. However, 2012 wasn’t that long after the 2008 financial crisis. I won’t sugar coat it, the economy back then wasn’t in the best shape and the Boston job market for young graduates was fierce and highly competitive.
I applied to about 70 jobs, from small digital design agencies to large insurance companies, a couple of months before graduating. I was hungry for any experience, and I didn’t really have a preference in an industry. However, I wanted to do something creative like writing because writing is what I enjoy doing. I also had a goal to work for an international company someday; I was starving to learn in a multi-cultural environment.
In the midst of my voracious job hunting, I got my foot in the door with a German scientific institution in Cambridge during the summer of 2012. Granted, it was a six-month internship that didn’t pay much, but it offered me great experience in the field of marketing, an apartment, and international colleagues who would later inspire me to move to Germany. Before I tell you about my life across the ocean, I have to emphasize that I didn’t move to Germany because of this internship. In fact, I worked for a year in Boston before I left. After my internship ended, I worked at a research firm where I helped manage the company’s website. I also picked up some freelance work by writing scientific articles for the Swiss Science Center in Cambridge.
The following summer of 2013, I applied for an internship with a German travel company located in Düsseldorf. This is where my world changed radically; they accepted me within one month of applying. The good news was that I didn’t need to speak German for the job, phew! My job involved online marketing and travel blogging. Although, I was assigned to the North American Team, I worked with other colleagues from all over the world.
Düsseldorf is a great city known for its carnivals, football team, dark beer, and their rivalry with the city of Cologne. It is also considered the “fashion capital” of Germany as well as one of the wealthiest cities. In general, Germany is highly organized, safe, and has little poverty and pollution compared to other countries. I enjoyed my six month internship and was sorry when it came to an end. Nevertheless, I wasn’t ready to relocate back to the US so I pushed myself to find new work and a new working visa in order to stay in Europe.
I got my first career break in 2014. A Danish company invited me to work at their Copenhagen office as a content marketing writer. Copenhagen exceeded my expectations with their advanced society. It was even cleaner, safer, and more organized than Düsseldorf. I learned about the software world and mastered content marketing through different tools of the trade, such as HubSpot. Unfortunately, the company couldn’t obtain a working visa for me due to legal complications.
Consequently, I decided to move to Amsterdam in 2015 and “Go Dutch.” No, not split the bill per se, but literally do as the Dutch would do. You know, like buying a used bike, letting my hair get soaked in the rain, and putting mayonnaise on my French fries. I spent five years in Amsterdam working for several technology companies doing various marketing roles, as well as starting my own freelance business, and I even filed my taxes in Dutch.
Working and living abroad has been a wonderful, life-changing experience and has opened my eyes to different cultures, work policies, and practices. It gave me the privilege to travel throughout Europe and I made valuable friendships.
My college years at Lesley University helped me prepare for this big move in numerous ways. My degree provided me excellent courses and instruction within a robust academic and creative environment. My professors helped me become a critical thinker, a better researcher, and a sharper writer. They gave me the confidence to take on risks and explore new opportunities abroad. Likewise, Lesley helped me think big and take on new creative projects. For example, I completed my first manuscript and travel blog. I applied many of the same techniques that I learned from my non-fiction, creative writing courses at Lesley into these projects.
Now that I’ve turned 30 this year, I’m ready to start my new chapter and refine my skills even further. I plan on enrolling in a Master’s program in Journalism or Communications. I look forward to more adventures and challenges and can thank Lesley for giving me a great head start.