by Amanda Azzarelli
Alumna Marissa Decker made the most of her travel abroad opportunities, and it paid off.
Decker spent the fall semester of her junior year in Florence, Italy, in 2011. She also enrolled in the Global Advertising and Public Relations course in Spring 2011, and traveled with the class to London, England, for two weeks.
After returning home from her trip to London, Decker landed an internship with dgCommunications Group, an ad agency in southern Florida. The owner of this agency used to live in London and is originally from South America.
“I believe being well rounded globally helped me land the job,” Decker said. “I felt extremely confident in myself while explaining my work with Global Ad/PR, and taking a job in southern Florida felt like a breeze compared to a semester in Europe.”
As an intern, some of Decker’s responsibilities included creative work, like designing logos and product proofs. She also did client work, including organizing photo shoots and contacting vendors.
After graduating in December 2013, Decker was offered a freelance job with dgCommunications Group. She now designs the weekly grocery savers for a client in the Cayman Islands.
“Being open to a challenge is something I learned immensely while traveling,” Decker said. “I viewed the experience in Florence as a challenge to myself to meet new people, experience different cultures, and find my niche in life. Being able to adapt to each challenge, project and client has made my efficiency in and love for this job grow.”
Decker said the language barrier was not the biggest challenge in her study abroad experiences, having taken four years of Italian throughout high school and an additional course the semester before she left.
“The entire semester was filled with planning different trips,” Decker said. “What was most challenging for me was letting go of that anxiety if something went awry. After a semester of learning to let go of the reigns and enjoy the experience, I felt much more at ease with traveling and becoming that independent, optimistic person I hoped to become.”
Decker said these experiences contributed to her organizational skills. She created her own photography business while continuing her freelance work with dgCommunications Group. She said she must to be organized in her projects and plans to keep everything running smoothly.
“Another lesson I learned, and still continue to use to this day, was how much I value the relationships I made,” Decker said. “Being able to communicate effectively really helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin.”
Decker encourages all students to consider studying abroad. She said immersing yourself in a new culture and being a part of a life completely different from your own helps you learn a lot about yourself.
“It is an experience that grows with you, even after you return home,” Decker said.