Business in Ireland: Online Student Discovers the Possibilities and Benefits of Study Abroad
By Sue McMurray
Not many people can say they have jumped neck deep into a thousand-year-old Irish peat bog with new friends. But Jeri Epperson can, and did, on her study abroad trip to Ireland in May 2018.
A 37-year-old working mother of two, this non traditional Carson undergraduate spent five weeks in Dublin making new traditions, memories, and adventures of a lifetime with her family by her side.
Epperson is earning an online business administration degree in the human resources management track. She never considered studying abroad until she received an email about the Carson College faculty-led program in Ireland.
“The chance to spend a month in another country learning another culture while still fulfilling required course offerings was impossible to pass up,” she says. “I chose to bring my husband and two kids with me, so the five-week time frame in an English-speaking country was ideal and an unforgettable educational experience for us all.”
Challenges offset by support
Epperson received the Carson College National Board of Advisors scholarship supporting study abroad. The scholarship allowed her to take time off work to experience the Ireland program and still pay bills at home, she says.
She credits the WSU faculty and staff from IES Abroad that offered on-site support for doing a wonderful job of helping WSU students select excellent business and cultural visits they would never have had the opportunity to experience on their own. Each opportunity broadened her perspectives and gave her new ideas to explore, she explains.
But the experience was not without challenges.
“The first day of newness was difficult, especially after a long day of travel. Learning how to navigate the city, drive on the opposite side of the road, and feeling out of my element were also difficult,” she says. “The advice our faculty gave us was absolutely sound: ‘Stick it out a day or two, and you will quickly get the hang of things and start having the adventure of a lifetime.’”
Becoming more marketable
Epperson found Dublin’s recent tech boom resulting in tremendous growth and diversity very similar to Seattle, where she lives and works as a director of human resources for an innovative non-profit firm. Seeing how Dublin—and Ireland at large—are adapting to unprecedented growth helped her better understand Seattle’s business and politics.
“My time in Ireland reinvigorated my passion for travel and cultural immersion,” Epperson says. “More importantly, the passion of the professionals we met on business visits refreshed my energy and commitment to excellence in my work here. I’m pleased to say my WSU education is making me a better practitioner and more marketable in my field.”
Epperson will graduate in 2021 and plans to expand her skills and experience to help her organization grow into HR consulting for other corporations.