ICS Reflection: 2001 Edition

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My experience with the ICS program was nothing short of amazing. Back in the summer of 2001, when I served as a graduate assistant, we took 18 students to London, Paris, Prague and Geneva, where we met with executives such as the vice president of communications for Nestle, the director of media relations for the International Olympic Committee, the editor-in-chief at The Mirror Group, the director of communications and events at Disney Europe, the head of the Americas region at the BBC and the public relations manager at the European Broadcasting Union, among many others.

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The days were intense, exciting and fun, both in and out of meetings and “classrooms.” From a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe to the mad dash of getting everyone’s already-overweight luggage on the high-speed train from London to Paris in under three minutes (we actually practiced the hand-off line at the hotel) to meeting a celebrity’s wife in a laundromat in Prague to some of our students touching snow for the first time in the Alps, we crammed a lot into six weeks.

A few of us went to the French Open and sat court-side, 20 feet away from tennis great Martina Navratilova. We saw AC/DC play live to tens of thousands of people in an outdoor stadium in Prague. We met early in the morning to run alongside Lake Geneva with the breathtaking Alps in the background. We stood atop Dover Castle on a windy day, marveling at the incredible views. Almost 20 years later, I still remember everything we learned, the people we met and the fun we had.

It truly was the trip of a lifetime, and it paved the way to my career success.

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Through my graduate assistantship, I learned how to recruit top students, promote the program, set up business meetings in Europe, plan extensive travel for a large group, manage the days of 18 students when I was barely older than they were (and during a time that not everyone had cell phones) and maintain a blog for parents daily using random internet cafes abroad (yes, Annenberg taught us how to blog back then!). That’s on top of the knowledge I gained from meeting dozens of European executives—some of whom I am still in touch with today.

As the world becomes more global, an experience such as ICS is invaluable, and I hope as many students as possible take advantage of this phenomenal opportunity.

Dr. Amanda (Chaborek) Holdsworth is the assistant professor of sports promotion and management at Cleary University in Michigan. She earned a Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations in 2002 and a Doctor of Education in 2017, both from USC. She is also the founder of CommunicatED, a communications consulting firm serving educational institutions, and blogs on career advice at WhattheProfessorWore.com.