After studying abroad in Siena, Italy IES Abroad alumna Allison Stackhouse knew she wanted an international career. She is a recent graduate from Fordham University with a B.A. in both Economics and International Political Economy, with a minor in Marketing. She studied abroad in Fall 2018 on the IES Abroad Siena – Business & Economics of Italian Food & Wine program and currently works for Wilson Daniels Wholesale, a wine import and wholesale company in New York City.
We caught up with Allison to hear how adding study abroad experience to her résumé helped land her ideal job post-graduation (even during a pandemic!). Read on for her advice on how study abroad can open you up to new career possibilities and even help tip the scales in your favor during the job search.
IES Abroad: How did you envision your career path before studying abroad in Italy and did that change afterwards?
Allison Stackhouse (AS): I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do post-graduation, but knew that I wanted to do something where I got a taste of working internationally and I knew that studying abroad would give me the upper hand when I eventually had to start the job search. Through my experience studying in Siena and learning about the Business & Economics of Italian Food & Wine I discovered that it is possible to make a career out of something seemingly unusual. Through studying abroad, I also cemented in my mind that I definitely wanted to do something international, that also could potentially allow for travel; a job where I wasn’t going to be stuck at a desk from nine to five every day. I wanted something where I could learn about myself in a professional setting while also continuing to travel and learn more about different cultures.
IES Abroad: Was there a specific part of your study abroad experience that helped you the most in deciding your current career path and finding your current job?
AS: I know that my time in Siena truly gave me the upper hand in my job hunt because I had that international experience. The fact that IES Abroad offers a program tailored to the business and economics of Italian food and wine definitely helped me land my job in the wine industry. The hands-on experiences we got at various vineyards and learning from professors who also worked at these vineyards gave me a greater understanding of the industry and different career paths. Additionally, simply having the experience with wine in the heart of the Chianti region, plus learning about wines in classes gave me a greater understanding and appreciation. I took one class called The Italian Wine Industry and its Evolution in Tuscany where we learned about the history of Italian wine dating back to the first-known grape harvest. This class definitely helped me broaden my understanding of wine, both the history and the industry, and has been so helpful in my current role. Having the experience to take classes so different from what was offered at my school helped me branch out and gain new experiences and meet some of my best friends to this day.
IES Abroad: Tell us a little bit about your job hunt after graduation. Any advice to other study abroad alumni who may face a similar situation?
AS: I graduated in May 2020, so obviously still during the beginning stages of COVID-19; needless to say my job hunt was a little all over the place. I was looking for jobs in the wine industry, half as a joke just to see what was out there, and half seriously because it’s such an interesting industry that I knew I wanted to learn more about. I started my original job hunt pre-COVID in the winter and didn’t have a whole lot of luck. My internships were kind of all over the place and I was spreading myself too thin. After many sit-downs with my résumé and some fine tuning of my cover letter, I felt prepared at the beginning of June to start my job hunt again.
The three major things I took away from my job hunt are:
IES Abroad: Tell us about what you do now in your current role.
AS: Currently I am the Office Administrator for a wine import and wholesale company located in New York City. My day to day consists mainly of sales support. That can be anything from placing orders for our customers, to helping our sales representatives with account histories, to inventory. Most days I help our accounting team by processing payments and reaching out to accounts making sure they are paying on time. Other days I’m on calls with our marketing and brand management team helping send samples to journalists who will taste and review the wines in our portfolio. I think this is the perfect job for me as my first job post-graduation. I have the opportunity to see how an effective company is run and am able to play a role in most departments within our office. Being involved in so many departments is helping me realize what I’m most passionate about and what I will enjoy the most when the time comes to decide exactly what I want to do in the future.
IES Abroad: What advice would you give to other students considering study abroad and the impact it may have on their future careers?
AS: The best advice I can give to other students considering study abroad is to do it! Studying abroad gave me so many more opportunities than I ever thought possible. Having the opportunity to study abroad with people I had never met before in a place I had never been was the best decision I have ever made. I was able to land a job that I never thought possible and some of the people I studied abroad with are now some of my best friends. Going to Siena helped me learn more about myself and future career opportunities all while having so much fun traveling and eating great food with even better people.
“Studying abroad gave me so many more opportunities than I ever thought possible. Having the opportunity to study abroad with people I had never met before in a place I had never been was the best decision I have ever made.”