For many students, studying abroad is a life-changing experience. Andi Howard ’11 was no exception. Hailing from Woodbridge, N.J., Howard had never traveled outside the United States before she spent last summer in Brussels.
When Howard learned about the Lehigh in Belgium program, she was excited about the possibility of studying marketing and practicing her French in the capital of the European Union. She liked the flexibility of a summer program because it allowed her to live abroad without missing a semester or year of campus activities.
“It seemed like an amazing opportunity,” she says, “but I couldn’t afford it.”
Then Howard heard of the competitive Tauck Scholars Program, which provides students in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics with international internships every year. Two other students took part in the program last summer. Marketing major Caroline Potock ‘11 worked at Datarati and Altium in Australia, and accounting major Brian Weekes ’11 was employed by KPMG Centre in New Zealand.
As the home of NATO and most of the European Union’s major institutions, Brussels is a hub of international activity. Howard was initially wary of negotiating her new environment and its two official languages—French and Dutch. But she made friends with other international students, learning about their cultures and perspectives. She also saw how people do business in different countries.
A “willingness to feel uncomfortable”
As a Tauck Scholar, Howard worked at the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), a network of advertising organizations that voluntarily ensure their work is honest, fair and responsible. She worked with the European Parliament to survey organizations and to help European governments better assess the health claims made by advertisers for new food products.
The Parliament, along with the European Council, is part of the EU’s highest legislative body. Several years ago, it issued regulations governing the health and nutrition claims that advertisers could make about food products. It then asked EASA to gather information about how each member organization complies with its country’s regulatory agency concerning its advertising claims. Howard contacted organizations in countries across Europe and met people who had grown up speaking French, Romanian, Hungarian, Swedish or Finnish before learning English.
“Before working for EASA, I thought self-regulation was something advertisers felt obligated to do,” Howard says. “But I learned that they are willing to create these rules for their industry because they want consumers to have confidence in their messages. Because of my experience, everything I learn in my marketing classes will now have a different slant. I would not have had such a thorough education in marketing had it not been for Lehigh and the Tauck Scholars program.”
“With my experience in Belgium,” she adds, “I feel infinitely more prepared to enter the global business world. I am now a person who is willing to feel uncomfortable in a different surrounding, a different country, a different work environment, but who eventually finds that she is calling that new country home.”