Alumni Spotlight: Mary Merschat - Dublin
Mary Merschat is a Human Resources Representative for Cintas Corporation. She has been in this role for over a year and really enjoys recruiting, onboarding, and developing new partners. She graduated from the University of Memphis in December '19 with a BBA in Business Management, concentrating in HR. After completing her bachelor's degree, Mary immediately started the MBA program at the University of Memphis and graduated in August '21. Mary's interests include cooking, traveling, and quality time with family and friends. She currently lives in Memphis, TN with her fiancé, Tyler, and their cat named Bean.
WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU STUDY ABROAD?
Dublin, Ireland; May '19 – July '19
WHY DID YOU WANT TO STUDY ABROAD? WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO STUDY ABROAD?
I actually didn’t plan to study abroad in college. I was interested in doing it as a freshman, but didn’t think about it much. I was inspired by my professor, Dr. Kathy Tuberville. She made me want to do it and showed me all the resources I had!
WHAT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU LEARNED OR CAN REMEMBER FROM YOUR PROGRAM?
The most valuable thing I learned from my study abroad program in Dublin was to get outside of my comfort zone. I never regretted trying new things or taking advantage of opportunities. Some of my favorite memories from the trip happened because I was willing to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
IF YOU COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE ABROAD, WHAT WOULD THE TITLE BE?
A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity
HOW DID YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE IMPACT YOUR INITIAL JOB SEARCH (RÉSUMÉ, COVER LETTER, INTERVIEWS)? WHAT HARD AND SOFT SKILLS FROM STUDY ABROAD HELPED YOU LAND YOUR JOB?
It helped me tremendously! I was told by multiple employers that my study abroad experience made me a more competitive candidate. I always had so many experiences to talk about during my interviews, and my résumé and cover letter marketed my adaptability. My hard skills expanded to learning software like PowerBI and HR practices, while my soft skills included increased communication and listening skills. As an HR professional who hires students today, I look for study abroad experience in my candidates.
HOW DID YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE SHAPE YOUR CAREER GOALS? WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR CAREER TODAY? YOUR TRAJECTORY?
My study abroad experience shaped my career goals by making me want to work for a diverse company. I loved getting to work with people from multiple cultures and backgrounds while I interned in Ireland. I am currently a Human Resources Representative at a Fortune 500 company called Cintas. My long-term goal is to be an HR Director.
DID YOU EXPERIENCE CULTURE/REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK, AND IF SO, HOW DID YOU COMBAT IT?
Yes, the first 24-48 hours in Dublin were full of culture shock. I combatted this by walking around and getting familiar with local shops and restaurants near my housing accommodation. I also was quick to make friends with the other students in my program. I had more fun exploring with them!
WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS OF WISDOM FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDY OR INTERN ABROAD STUDENTS?
Please be open to trying new things and learning new cultures! It will help you have an appreciation for different lifestyles and workplaces. Also, it will help you be confident in yourself! You are capable of so much and travelling or living out of the U.S. is a major life accomplishment.
ARE YOU STILL IN CONTACT WITH ANY OF YOUR CEA FRIENDS, PEERS, OR COLLEAGUES FROM STUDY ABROAD?
Yes! We are all connected on social media and cheer each other on!
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED OR OVERCAME DURING YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE?
The biggest challenge I faced and overcame was homesickness. I’m not going to lie, there were days when I missed my family, friends, and pets back home. I overcame this feeling by calling them and making plans for when I returned. I tried to remind myself that it was normal to feel this way and tried to stay active when I was dealing with homesickness.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD FROM YOUR HOST CITY? WHERE WAS YOUR FAVORITE SPOT TO SPEND TIME ALONE OR JUST YOUR OVERALL FAVORITE PLACE IN THE CITY?
I loved the fish and chips from local restaurants! One of my favorite spots was a tiny Italian Restaurant in Dùn Laoghaire, where I would go to on my lunch break during my internship placement. My favorite spot in the city was this pub down the street from the apartment. We would go there and play cards and darts!
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