How to Study Abroad: Tips from an International Student

Ross Action ShotEditor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post written by  student, Ross Stallworthy, whom I met while I was guest teaching a marketing class at Virginia Intermont College.

I am an international student from a small town in the middle of England currently studying Sport Management at Virginia Intermont College in southwest Virginia.

Why did I find myself in this location you may ask? Well growing up in England, soccer is the dominant sport which is embedded in our culture. Having played the sport at a high level, most notably winning a national title with my school team in 2005, I had the opportunity to continue playing and earn a degree at college. At the age of 18 I thought to myself can I really do this? Was I able to pack all of my life into one luggage bag and live by myself in a country I had never visited before half way around the world? At that stage I was scared, terrified of leaving of home. Three years later I am captain of my soccer team who finished second in the conference, part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, taking on a Business Administration minor, and searching for that one chance to gain experience in the form of an internship in the sporting industry.

Along the way I have encountered many obstacles that I have to jump over, knock down, and physically run through. Adapting to a completely different culture, even though the language is somewhat the same, was a challenge that I enjoyed with the help of my teammates. As a student-athlete managing my time was essential, previously I had been given a schedule to follow; now I had to create my own and make decisions for myself. I had to find a direction and fast, luckily my love for sports have been my driving force to want to give back to something that has given me a tremendous amount of pleasure.

Throughout my sporting career and studies it has become clear that a certain mix of characteristics make the ideal future employee or intern in my case. Knowing how to talk to different people and recognizing their level of expectation is the most important thing I have learned in the past 3 years. This is how Mary Ellen Miller (Mel) gave me this opportunity to be a guest in her blog. The interaction that was present when we first met couldn’t have gone better. As she was giving her presentation on marketing I was thinking critically and asking questions to further understand how she became successful. People remember how you respond to what you say and how you say it, you never know who could be your future employer.

Tips to make you that desirable employee or intern:

1. Be organized, plan ahead, and be flexible

2. Recognize your goal and be determined to make it a reality

3. Build positive relationships

4. Go the extra mile to get what you want

5. Identify your strengths and utilize them

6. Always be willing to learn

I think that many employers are looking for that individual who stands out in a crowd and has something interesting about them to add to their workforce. As I continue my search for the right internship, which has been going on for a while now, I am as determined as ever to be successful. You are going to get knock backs and a lot of ‘No’ answers, but it is how you respond that separates you from the crowd.

Once again I cannot thank Mel enough for giving me this chance to share my experience of being in the U.S. and trying to start my career here, for that I am extremely grateful. 

Ross Stallworthy

Ross Stallworthy


Ross Stallworthy is a student at Virginia Intermont College studying Marketing.


  • Bill Painter says:

    Great insight and those traits will carry you far, no matter what you choose for your career.

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks Bill. I think Ross does give some good tips that students and international students can benefit from reading.

  • Sarah Kinsler says:

    Great Story! It takes a lot of courage to pack your whole life in a suitcase and move across the world. Loved the tips as well, especially number five. No matter how long you are involved in a profession, there’s ALWAYS room to learn new things!

  • Ross Stallworthy says:

    Thank you for the positive comments. Each day is a new chance to make a difference and better yourself in anyway possible.

  • Donna Gunter says:

    Ross, what great insights you’ve gleaned from your experience. I think you’ve missed the strongest insight (IMHO), although you’re headed in the right direction with #6. You have the ability to generalize from one situation to the next, i.e. take your experiences as a study abroad student and apply them to the new situation of a job seeker. That ability alone will take you far in life. Good luck to you as you move forward!

  • Kristen Pierce says:

    Time management is extremely important in our field of work! Great tips!

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