Life After College - Communications Graduate Samantha Abear
Samantha Abear, Class of 2016, graduated with a degree in Communications and a minor in Business Administration. In her time at JCU, Samantha worked at the Web Communications Office and the Financial Aid office. Very active in student life, she was a member of the Theatre Society and Universities Fighting World Hunger. Samantha now works at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in the cornfields of the Midwest, in a small town on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin, exactly an hour from Milwaukee and Chicago. It was a safe place to grow up, but I quickly grew restless there as a teenager. I then ventured on a one-year foreign exchange to Germany, during which I fell in love with Europe and decided I wanted to spend more time in Italy specifically.
Before coming to John Cabot, however, I did one year of undergraduate studies at Seattle University, then worked for a summer in a fish cannery in Alaska, and finally came to Rome! I guess you could say I was catching up on the excitement I thought I’d missed out on growing up in the Midwest. Long story short, I picked John Cabot because I wanted to study in Italy and get a degree that would still be valid in the United States. Luckily for me, Rome turned out stimulating enough that I’ve stayed here ever since.
How’s life after graduation? How’s life in Rome as a worker/graduate as opposed to as a student?
It’s different! As a college student, I craved the working life: not having to stress about assignments, not having to leave my summer jobs working on organic farms to come back to school. Life was structured in semesters and breaks. Now that I have graduated and work for FAO, it’s as if I am living in a different Rome. Instead of mostly hanging around Trastevere in my free time, I barely ever go there. Instead, I find myself checking out different neighborhoods and exploring the city with new people. I’ve broken free of my university bubble.
Adapting to the working life did admittedly take a bit of time. After graduating, I spent the first month working on fellow JCU alumnus Axel Keicher’s family flower farm before I started an internship at FAO. There was really no break before school ending and work starting as I prefer to keep myself busy. The 9-to-5 flow, however, does take a moment of adjusting to, and by “moment,” I mean a good 3-4 months. Now, almost one year down the road from graduating, I feel quite adjusted to this new schedule of living.
How did you start working at FAO?
During the first semester of my senior year at JCU, I began volunteering part-time for the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS), based at FAO headquarters in Rome. I took a break of six months to focus on my final Communications essay during my last semester and was then invited back to intern for the MPS. After a six-month internship, I was hired to provide support to their communications activities for one year. I am happy to have been granted this opportunity to gain more experience in the communications field, to learn more about international development, and to work with experts from around the world at FAO.
Did any particular class at JCU help you in your career?
The class that had the most practical impact on me was Business Communications with Professor Michèle Favorite. However, I owe a lot of my working skills to JCU’s student employment program. The time I spent working in the Financial Aid and Web Communications offices taught me several valuable skills that I now use on a daily basis in my current work.
What are your career plans?
As far as my future work goes, my career plans remain somewhat up-in-the-air. I can tell you, however, that I fully intend on being a business owner someday and having my own brand of organic yogurts. I would also really like to become more involved in Rome’s “Kilometro Zero” movement.
Any advice for a new student starting college?
Take advantage of the events and activities offered by John Cabot, as well as the student social life, but also make sure to see the local, Roman side of the city. It will help you to appreciate this place in those moments when you’re fed up and feel stuck in a rut – which, will likely happen to you at least once in college.
If you see yourself staying in Rome after you graduate, start as early as you can to make connections in the city, to get involved with external groups and organizations, because already having an idea of what you want to do after you graduate and with whom you want to work will make the student-to-worker transition a lot easier. Also, if you don’t have a passport from a European Union country, save this video by JCU Alumna Diedre Blake about how to renew your Permesso di Soggiorno after you graduate to stay in Rome and look for work.