UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Online learner Maria Skiredj will soon get to experience something more often reserved for residential undergraduate students thanks to one of her graduate courses: the opportunity to study abroad.
Skiredj is one of 16 Penn State students who will travel to Zagreb, Croatia, on March 31 for a weeklong study abroad opportunity to learn about international human resources policies and practices. The course is applied toward the master of professional studies in human resources and employment relations degree, which is offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus.
For Skiredj, who wants to work internationally during her career, being able to have this face-to-face experience with her classmates is special.
“Studying abroad for a master’s degree program is a great opportunity because we’re working in the industry and get to meet with HR professionals doing the same thing,” said Skiredj, who grew up in Morocco and lives in New York. “You create a family from the class, get to know each other, and share memories together.
“It’s a great way to bridge and connect everyone that represents Penn State in one place.”
The students, who are working professionals in the human resources field, will meet with the HR staff at several businesses, attend lectures from a local university, and participate in cultural and research activities. They will see how different organizations operate in the country and learn how their practices in human resources and employment relations differ from the practices and policies of the United States.
This is the third straight year the Penn State School of Labor and Employment Relations in the College of the Liberal Arts has taken online learners abroad. Students also have traveled to Scotland and Ireland.
Trisha Everhart, assistant director of online programs for the School of Labor and Employment Relations, said offering a study abroad experience is important for World Campus students.
“Online learners can benefit from networking with other students, visiting companies, and experiencing another culture,” she said. “We’ve seen how beneficial this program has been for students who have traveled with us the past two years. Students gained knowledge from experiences that you just can’t get in a book. We are excited to offer this enriching opportunity again with our upcoming trip to Croatia.”
Another student, Adam Merberger, who lives in Pittsburgh and works for a German-based company, said the opportunity to visit international companies can help him better understand how his own company operates.
“Europe is where I want to work eventually, so going to Croatia is a really good learning opportunity to see how companies operate within the European Union,” he said. “It’s great to have the study abroad opportunity now when I’m actually doing and practicing on a daily basis the same industry we’ll be studying.”
Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information.