BY Kenny buck
After college graduation, most students have a clear idea of the career they’re looking for. Where their career takes them can be a different story.
Recent MSUM graduate Mat Gleeson found work overseas in a place that might not be considered a top destination for college students: The Middle East.
Graduating in December of 2013 with a degree in mass communications, Gleeson has been working as a contract video editor for an international company in Afghanistan since May.
“My co-workers are great and the money’s good, but the thing I like the most about my job is that it affords me the opportunity to travel,” Gleeson said.
Every six months, Gleeson receives 25 days of paid vacation and limitless options to travel the world.
He is currently vacationing in Australia and plans to visit New Zealand.
While Gleeson is checking out the scenery in Australia, he may be surprised to know he is not the only MSUM graduate staying in the land down under.
Rachel Stanislawski, also a mass communications graduate of MSUM, is starting her communications/marketing internship in Australia for “SIDS and Kids.”
“SIDS and Kids” is an Australian national nonprofit organization that provides support to parents who have lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome.
Stanislawski says she’s looking forward to the internship, but it comes at a small price.
“Since the internship is with a nonprofit it unfortunately does not pay, so I will also need to get a part-time job,” Stanislawski said.
The intern has found her niche by interning for Fargo non-profits and says she’s wanted to intern overseas for a long time.
“I was always looking for overseas opportunities,” Stanislawski said, “Also, I needed to escape the Minnesota/North Dakota winter.”
Gleeson and Stanislawski are enjoying the warmer weather of their new-found jobs, but there are other MSUM grads working in conditions similar to Minnesota.
Xandra Stowman graduated from MSUM with a B.F.A. in art education. She teaches art at a bilingual school in Sweden.
Stowman found her way to Sweden through a job fair in St. Paul and credits MSUM for where she is today.
“Without my education I would not have been able to get this job,” Stowman said. “MSUM also encouraged everyone to go to the job fair so if they would not have pushed it, I probably would not have gone.”
Stowman says life is great in Sweden, but admits the destination was not originally part of her plan.
“My intention was to get a job someplace with no winter but instead I ended up in Sweden,” Stowman said. “I never dreamed I would get the opportunity to work and live outside the States.”
Although these jobs may sound great on paper, the three Dragons caution not to hop on the first plane overseas in search of work.
Gleeson logs a total of 84 hours per week and says his extracurricular activities are limited.
“I spend what little free time I have at the gym or corresponding with friends over the internet,” Gleeson said.
Stowman has found it difficult to decipher the Swedish language and says it’s been tough adjusting.
“Grocery shopping can get interesting when you are relying on pictures to tell you what’s in the can,” Stowman said.
In Australia, Stanislawski found her future to be a little brighter than she was anticipating.
“The first day we went to the beach I got massive sunburn,” Stanislawski said. “Here it is the norm to put sunscreen on everyday no matter what the weather looks like.”
As for Gleeson, living conditions in Afghanistan are not as ideal as Australia or Sweden, and the room Gleeson lives in is what he describes as a “glorified walk-in closet.”
Despite the small housing, which he shares with two other roommates, Gleeson says things aren’t as tough as they might seem.
“My room and board is paid for, so I’ve found it easy to save money while I’m here,” Gleeson said.
With packed work schedules and limited times for connecting with friends and family over the internet, Gleeson and Stanislawski admit to getting homesick.
“Aside from my friends and bed, I probably miss the food back in the States the most,” Gleeson said. “Not being able to order pizza or Chinese food is probably a blessing though.”
“I stay in contact with people through Facebook,” Stanislawski said. “It’s hard though since I am 17 hours ahead of the U.S.”
Stowman says getting homesick has not been much of a problem because of the friends she’s made in Sweden.
“I have a great group of friends here that I have met and Facebook, Skype, and Snapchat help me keep in touch with my friends and family back in the States,” Stowman said.
For any average college student, accepting a job located on the other side of the world is a difficult choice.
However, Gleeson, Stowman, and Stanislawski found it to be quite the opposite.
“The decision to take the job surprisingly wasn’t difficult,” Gleeson said, “It’s never easy to leave friends behind, but I think it’s important to take advantage of the opportunities you have.”
“Take the risk and take the job,” Stowman said. “You have your whole life to move back to your hometown. Take some time to have an adventure and do something crazy. When you open yourself up to possibilities you never know what might happen.”
“Do it,” Stanislawski said. “It will scare the hell out of you, but it will make you a stronger person. It’s best to go now.”