Julye Williams knows all too well the leg up that this summer's internship abroad will give Albany State University junior Danielle McKinley.
"I thought Danielle would be a good fit for CIEE because the organization offers an enriching, credible and culturally relevant experience," said Williams, who graduated with a master's degree in business administration from Florida A&M in 2002.
Like Danielle, a 2004 graduate of Greenbrier High School, Williams participated in a study abroad program.
"It is something that has set me apart from other possible job seekers and helped get me in the door for interviews," Williams said.
McKinley is the daughter of Bill and Cynthia McKinley, of Evans. She served as Miss Black Georgia Teen USA 2004-05, was a presidential scholar and a member of the CSRA Youth Leadership Program, and is an alumna of the local performing arts group Creative Impressions - Barefoot Productions Youth Choir.
McKinley met Williams through her older sister, Deanna. The two quickly became friends, and soon Williams was a mentor to McKinley.
When McKinley began searching for summer internships abroad, Williams suggested CIEE - the Council for International Educational Exchange. Like McKinley, she had an interest in studying abroad, and she had participated in a CIEE program in Brazil.
"It wasn't a paid internship," McKinley said. "It cost about $5,000 to go and I didn't have that, so I wrote a letter and sent it, along with my rsum, to friends, family and local businesses. I asked them to please help me support my dream."
The solicitations netted nearly half of what the 19-year-old needed for the trip, with the remaining money supplemented by a scholarship.
"I was very blessed," McKinley said.
During her trip to Spain, McKinley reconnected with a foreign exchange student she met during her senior year of high school, fulfilling a promise she made to Irene Bermejo two years ago.
"She asked me when I was going to visit her, and I started thinking and told her I would visit Spain during the summer of 2006," said McKinley, who said she fell in love with the language when she took a semester of Spanish in the sixth grade.
She is in her fifth year of studying Spanish and knew she wanted to intern in Spain.
During the eight-week internship, McKinley, who spent one week visiting Bermejo in Madrid, worked in the creative department of Directa, a Spanish marketing and advertising firm.
A marketing major at Albany State, McKinley soon found herself loving her new role in a foreign country.
"It was absolutely amazing," she said of the May 24-July 24 experience.
McKinley's internship consisted of conducting marketing research on minority populations and how best to advertise to and represent them. She found that Moroccans, blacks and South Americans were underrepresented in the country.
"I told my boss in Spain about my future career goals of working in the field of minority-directed advertising, and she molded my internship so that I could focus on the same topic in Spain," McKinley said.
McKinley's research will help Directa advertise to a currently untapped population. And, in addition to earning six internships and Spanish language credits, McKinley has decided that a career abroad might be something she's interested in.
"It's going right along with my plans of what I want to do," she said, adding that she plans to obtain a master's degree in either marketing or advertising.
"I'm not sure if I want to live abroad or in Miami or Texas - somewhere with a strong Spanish community - but I'm thinking about going abroad."
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