A few words of introduction:
Ever wondered who’s Selina ‘15? That name that appears close to the bottom of the sidebar but never pipes in answering questions or sharing her work? Well maybe if you’ve been reading this blog for a while now you’ll remember my obsession with food or my musings over FWT in Bolivia but it’s definitely been awhile. Last July I left the states passing through Ecuador to visit my first roommate and dear friend Andrea before traveling together to Buenos Aires. Once there we met up with our lovely and equally dear friend Nina for a semester exchange program.
Like FWT, study abroad is a chance for Bennington students to burst the bubble, immerse themselves in a different culture, language, maybe study something in depth that isn’t normally offered in the Bennington curriculum, and face the challenge of finding their voice, passion and academic focus in a non-Bennington classroom/setting.
For me, one of the hardest questions to answer is “so how was your FWT?” It’s easy say oh it was “great, pivotal, awful, life-changing, or nothing special….” but, in my experience, these one or two word answers don’t get anywhere close to summing up or expressing the enormity of those seven weeks. When that experience is amplified into a semester or whole year away, trying to express, explain, or share that period of maybe feeling lost, adjusting, exploring, meeting new people, navigating the unknown, studying and living day-to-day in a new place and culture is all that more overwhelming.
The idea of this series is to interview recently returned students about their time abroad and try to give anyone who is interested a little peek –something more than just a two word answer – into their adventures. Up first: Amanda giving us the lowdown on education in Chile.
Nina, Andrea and I enjoying springtime in Argentina.
yo you wouldn’t BELIEVE the resources!!
But for real, don’t worry! You won’t just be thrust into the Job Hunt all on your own.
The go-to resource for most students is probably Worklink, a site run by the FWT Office where employers can upload positions which you can then apply to. All online! The FWT Office will even help you with things like resume and cover letter writing! So simple and easy!~
If Worklink don’t cut it, another (arguably bigger) resource is the network you’ll have simply by being a human among humans at Bennington. Whether it’s a Former Employer, Acquaintance, Friend From Home, or Someone’s Dad, most students and teachers know a bunch of people who could hook you up with a job if you’re cool and nice.
That being said, finding a job is still very much a self-driven thing. The resources aren’t going to be of any use if they’re not being used (ha ha ha.) As important as having connections and resources may be, no one is going to get you a job but you.
Don’t Drink and Drive!
<3 Kagan ‘16
As much as they want. I actually made money on my first two FWTs, and my most recent one could have been free if I didn’t love the Pad Thai place down the street from where I work so much. Granted, I wasn’t exactly living the FWT dream, but I have this theory that the FWT dream is kind of a lie. You can learn a lot even if you are in your hometown and not France. But Parke also went to France for free one time (grant + living with family), so you just have to be so so crafty.
I just asked everyone if the amount of money they spent on their FWTs correlated to the quality of the experience:
Eliana: “not really”
If you need some inspiration, here are two lit-related FWTs just around the office:
Anushka- Random House, helping decide the initial round of possible publications to be looked at by editors.
Emily- Writopia Lab in NYC, helping to teach kids learn to read and write, and editing their literary magazine.
If you can’t think of anything. my advice would be to not confine yourself to just the field in which you think you want to study; it’s not uncommon for a first FWT to be a bit unrelated while still informative. Last year, I worked with a non-profit art organization in North Bennington, and while it had nothing to do with Chinese or Animation, it was still a cool experience to get to know the off-campus community and learn about the workings of a locally run and funded non-profit.
So if you’re having trouble imagining a FWT in the realm of creative writing, try thinking of another job you’ve always wanted that may not have much to do with your current area of study. And there’s no limit to where you can go— there have been FWTs all over the world. Just thinking within the office, we’ve got Jeremy going to Japan, and Julia to Mexico.
Don’t worry~Happy Holiday~
<3 Kagan ‘16
This FWT, I will be going to Tokyo, Japan to work at Shure University - this really cool, democratic institution that serves mainly young people that suffer from school truancy or social seclusion. I’ll be working in the university’s theater department, running workshops on experimental theater-making. This will be my first time adventuring outside the United States! And I don’t speak any Japanese…so… Wish me luck!
I will be living with a friend of mine from Bennington. She grew up in Tokyo, so knows the area quite well. This will be her second time working in Japan; last year, she worked with a world-travelling ceramicist. My friend loved the experience so much that she just had to go back - this time to work in a biology lab with tadpoles.
FWT is such a wonderful experience because it offers students the opportunity to explore on a global scale. Doing international work for FWT is quite easy because of Bennington’s vast network. I found Shure University simply by chance - just surfing the web looking for work in Tokyo, found this incredible alternative university, sent out a resume, and got an email back saying they love Bennington and would be happy to have me! A school halfway around the world knows about Bennington?! So cool, right?
Those international jobs are out there and the FWT Office is super great about helping you out if you have any questions. Hoping all your FWT dreams come true, as well. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to chat about Japan some more!
My advice would be to think of your dream organization. GO BIG. or go small! Last year I worked at a tiny comedy theater in Chicago. Their smaller manpower meant that I had more responsibility and was a more integral part of the team. Go anywhere you want! The question is totally hypothetical, no one will hold you to the answer you put down. Interested in literature huh? Think about your favorite literary journal or bookstore or a children’s literacy organization. Really think about the work you’d like to do (this is YOUR fantasy, you don’t have to do the coffee runs!) Maybe you’ve got a burning (itching?) curiosity in a totally different area. FWT can be a great time to explore that as well. In the end, it’s an experience to help you find what satisfies you, and no one besides yourself can dictate that.
Gossip Girl (Emily ‘16)
A lot of my friends have worked as volunteers for their FWTs. So many great organizations can’t afford to pay us! On the bright side, the FWT Office offers great grants every year. So, if you demonstrate the need for a certain amount of money (fees, airplane tickets, housing, etc) the college will do its best to support you. Almost all students will receive money if they apply for a grant. Just recently a friend of mine went to work as a volunteer in an orphanage in China, and his trip was financed in part by grant money. The FWT office is all about supporting you in the things you love to do, and so in cases like this they always try their best to help you make it happen.
Hope that helps!
Sylvia M, ‘16
Hey peeps. Gather ‘round and listen to the tale of the small liberal arts school students who go out into the world and do crazy awesome things. Investigative reporters, Emily and Jeremy, went around the office to get the poop on our interns’ past and future Field Work Term experiences.
(For those who need a refresher, Field Work Term is the 7-week required annual internship period during which we explore the world as real deal worker bees. We write lots and lots of cover letters.)
Alan ‘15- I’m going to be working in Philadelphia and Boston with Polly Carl who is a theater artist. I’ll be able to watch the production process of a show and she set up meetings for me with theater artists around Boston so that I can make connections and get a sense of the theater scene. Weirdly, she has a PhD in comparative studies in discourse and society which is exactly what I study.
Kate ‘14- My sophomore year, I worked with a private vegetarian chef in New York. I was basically her media guru and then also became her personal assistant for both cooking and general life. I learned to cook for the first time in a more professional way than just making mac and cheese, and then I had the opportunity to continue working with her over the summer and for the next FWT (for money!) I also realized during this experience that I have to work with food in some capacity.
Emily ‘16- Last year for my first FWT I worked at a comedy theater in Chicago. The theater had just opened up a few months before I got there and as a result I had the opportunity to do everything the performers did: sound, lights, selling tickets, even house managing. I also worked as an administrative intern at an organization that helped victims of domestic violence. It was interesting to see how the women who worked there used humor to cope with the weight of their jobs.
As International Students, we can count on the Field Work Term office for any of our planning and decision-making needs. Questions like “do I need a Student Visa or a Work Visa if I’m from Ecuador and I’m working for 7 weeks in Europe?”, or “what are some opportunities I can access to if I go home?” can be asked, and are encouraged.
The Field Work Term office is there for all of us, whether you’re an international student or not. Like many things at Bennington, it’s a rich resource waiting to be tapped in (10 points for Carlos for a blog pun!).
I know dat feel, dude. I was super worried about the moving process too at first, especially with all the flying. Here’s the thing about FWT: Kids in colonial houses get to leave their stuff in their rooms over FWT, but the lucky folks in the Barnes and Woo houses (like me) have to move their belongings out of their rooms. The good thing is that the college provides storage for your things; in my house, for example, we put our stuff in the basement. As far as mailing things ahead of time… You mean to the college at the beginning of fall term? You can indeed! Just address it to yourself like this:
One College Drive
Bennington, VT 05201
If you want to chat more about the logistics of long-distance flying/moving, hit me up at email@example.com. :)
Our winter break leads right into FWT, so yes, if you’re in a house that lets you leave stuff over FWT, winter break is included in that.