For this study abroad experience, I spent three weeks with a group of 12 other students in Lausanne, Switzerland. The accompanying course centered around Global Sports Communications, and throughout the trip we made site visits to international federations and researched the world of global sport. The purpose of this trip was to show that sport outside of the U.S. is radically different than inside it, and to help us establish long-term industry connections. Though we were based in Lausanne, we also travelled to cities like Zurich, Gruyère, and Neuchâtel to ensure a comprehensive Swiss experience.
I was surprised by the differences in workplace culture, and the ways in which the federations we visited were so far ahead American standards in some ways but so far behind in others. For example, they all placed significant value on work/life balance and general employee amenities, from on-site espresso machines and cafeterias to relaxed working hours. However, there were extremely limited engagements with diversity and inclusion. Although this did not wholly surprise me given Switzerland’s history of ignoring problems instead of engaging with them, I was still disappointed in their widespread lack of acknowledgement that diversity and inclusion are even issues they need to be grappling with.
Dr. Brad Horn, who ran and operated the entire program, was the first to introduce me to this opportunity because we had previously connected regarding my interest in sports PR. I loved that this experience was centered around real-life job opportunities, taking the learning beyond the classroom and into real professional settings. As I seek potential topics for my Honors thesis, I feel like this opportunity could have been the perfect way to get my foot in the door and potentially re-enter the international sports realm for research purposes as an Honors thesis topic. On a broader level, Dr. Horn is in continued discussions with some of the federations that hosted us, and if there are future opportunities to work with or for them, I plan to involve myself.