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Interview: CAPA Sydney Study Abroad Alum Jordan Haugan

Jul 28, 2014 8:40:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

Jordan Haugan has an adventurous spirit. He loves hiking, rock-climbing and travel, which led him to study abroad in Sydney with CAPA before he graduated from Arizona State University. There, he went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, skydiving over the beach, surfing with his host dad and riding motorcycles along the coast. He also completed an internship at The WORD Australia, an experience that made a serious impact on his career when he returned to the States. Below he talks about how studying abroad gave him an edge over his peers, jump-started his career and continues to influence his success today.

But first, a video that Jordan created about his experience:

[youtube="http://youtu.be/xSaZudvhlDw"]

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
JORDAN HAUGAN: My name is Jordan Haugan. I graduated from Arizona State University in May 2011, and I studied abroad with CAPA Sydney in the Spring 2011 semester. In my spare time, I love drumming, rock-climbing, hiking, anything involving water (surfing, boating, you name it), travelling the world, and spending time with my wife, family and friends.

CW: What have you been up to since you graduated? How has your career developed since you returned to the States?
JH: The adventure didn't stop after I returned from Sydney. In fact, my experience studying abroad in Sydney has been a launch pad for my career development ever since! Long story short, after the travel bug bit me in Sydney, I continued travelling the world while working for US Airways. This job opened the door to a lot of new places around the world and led me to Limelight Networks, where I began my career in digital marketing and technology. Ultimately, this led me to my current position: Business Development Manager for Sitewire, a leading digital marketing consulting firm. From local companies to Fortune 500 brands, I’m proud to say that I get to partner with incredible clients and I’m privileged to work alongside some of the brightest minds in the industry. Beyond my career adventures, getting married in March of this year has been the best adventure of my life! A lot of new and wonderful developments have happened since I got back to the States.

Photo: Jordan with internship colleagues from The WORD Australia

CW: Tell us about the internship that you completed while studying abroad.
JH: This is the part of the CAPA experience that stands out to me above everything else – the internship. In Sydney, I worked as a marketing intern for a tourism publisher called The WORD Australia. A big part of my role included building their online presence. At the time, they were leaders in the print advertising world and wanted to amplify their digital impact. To do this, I partnered with existing accommodation and adventure providers, created a video blog campaign, published videos and written content to the site, planned a marketing strategy to maximize reach for this new content and ultimately increased traffic (by ~300%) to their online properties including: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and their website. At the end of my internship, I truly felt like I made an impact… and I had a blast doing it! I could tell CAPA took the time to evaluate my experience, skills and career goals and align the best possible internship experience for me.

CW: Do you feel your study abroad and internship experience gave you an edge over your peers?
JH: It has been four years now, and still, nearly every week, I have the opportunity to talk with friends, colleagues or clients about my experience studying abroad in Australia. Not only has this experience been a talking point in interviews, meetings and lunch conversations, but it gave me invaluable marketing strategy experience, provided the freedom to use my creativity in ways that made a difference and introduced me to a completely new [Aussie] way of life! Not to mention, I made friends on the CAPA program and Australian natives that I still keep in touch with to this day.

CW: What changes did you see in yourself during the course of your study abroad program? What did your experience teach you about yourself and the world around you?
JH: I’ve always had an adventurous spirit, but studying abroad with CAPA really brought it out! I’m so thankful to have had the opportunities to do the things I’ve wanted to do my entire life. Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, sky diving over the beach, sailing the Whitsunday Islands, surfing with my host dad, bungee jumping, snorkeling, riding motorcycles along the coast, camping on the world’s largest sand island (Fraser Island) and countless other experiences really showed me the joys of living an adventurous life.

CW: How did you fund your time abroad?
JH: Thankfully, my scholarship from ASU transferred over, so that was a huge blessing! I was also working since I was 16, so I had some money saved up for the fun things my program didn’t cover. I would encourage anyone who has doubts about the financial investment in studying abroad to speak with their school’s study abroad department. There are usually a lot of financial aid options.

Photo: Jordan with his host dad in Sydney

CW: Which MyEducation event was most memorable for you and why? How did your participation in this event change your understanding of the city?
JH: I took an "Australian Film & Cinema" class. One evening, we went to an Australian theatre in a completely new part of town. It was an incredible way to get a firsthand look at the culture of Australian cinema, and it was great to see the concepts we had been studying applied outside of the classroom.

CW: What challenges did you face when you returned home, if any? How did your friends and family react to stories of your experience abroad?
JH: The main challenge (and I wouldn't even call it a challenge-ha!) I faced was learning how to speak American English again. Australian sayings like “heaps,” “reckon,” and “mate” became second-nature in my daily vernacular, and although my accent has faded, I still find myself inserting some of those Aussie expressions in conversations to this day! My family and friends loved hearing about the adventures I had in Australia, and it brought back huge smiles to share pictures with them from the places I had gone, people I had met, and ridiculously adventurous things I had done.

Photo: Camping on Fraser Island

CW: What advice would you offer students currently studying abroad or considering a program?
JH:
1. DO IT! DO IT! Absolutely do it. Pick a place you’ve always wanted to go, make sure it makes sense with your education path and do it. I couldn’t recommend CAPA highly enough, and in retrospect, I view it as an investment not only in my education and future career, but in memories that will last forever. And, when you are out there, whether that’s London, China, or Australia, invest in experiences: Maybe scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef or walking the Great Wall of China has always peaked your interest… now is the time to do it!

2. Secondly, adapt to the culture and go with the flow! Things won’t always go according to plan and undoubtedly, the country you’re studying in will have a very different culture from the U.S. There were many times I would miss a train, forget a small detail (leaving my phone at my host dad’s place), and would get lost in the city, but there is something very freeing about being in a brand new place, experiencing things you've never done before. Sometimes I just had to laugh about it. In Australia, their motto was “work to live”, and I found that exemplified in my co-workers and host dad time and time again. Embrace the culture you’re in and make the most of the opportunities you have to see new places and meet new people.

3. Finally, make friends with everyone you can on the CAPA program and if you’re staying with a host family, make the most out of that time. Even though we’re thousands of miles apart, I still keep in touch with my host dad and I’m planning to go back and visit him soon. You never know where life will lead, so it’s always fun to stay in touch. Oh yeah, one more thing: when you get back, look at the pictures you took from your trip a lot. Seeing the phenomenal memories I made from these times makes me excited for the next adventures I’m about to have, and I hope it will do the same for you.

Thanks Jordan!

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Topics: CAPA Alumni, Interviews, Sydney, Australia, Accommodation Abroad, Internships Abroad