The Study Abroad Advantage: Thoughts from Alumni

Spending a semester abroad can provide excellent opportunities for academic and professional development. HLS students who have studied abroad have found their experiences beneficial in creating and preparing for opportunities after graduation, including work in government, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations. HLS alumni share thoughts on their semester abroad experience:

“My time studying constitutional law in the University of Chile gave me important insights into how Latin American constitutional systems interact with international human rights law. This experience, and the opportunity to view law and human rights issues from a different perspective, has been valuable for my work in international human rights and environmental law in the region.”

-- Jacob Kopas ’07
Coordinator of the Human Rights and Environment Program,
AIDA (Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense), Colombia

“HLS study abroad directly and substantially advanced my career. I studied at the University of Tokyo, and subsequently worked for two years in Davis Polk's Tokyo office. Although I am now based in Hong Kong, language skills (including Japanese) remain an important aspect of my work. While I already spoke Japanese pretty well, my knowledge of the Japanese equivalents of terms like 'prospectus' and 'non-recourse loan' was nil.

Secondarily, I met a number of people at the University of Tokyo with whom I interact regularly in Tokyo and elsehwere around Asia. I often discuss my time studying in Tokyo with alumni I meet, just as I might Harvard Law.”

-- Wallace DeWitt ‘08
Davis Polk & Wardell LLP, Hong Kong

“I spent my 2L spring semester studying international trade and environmental law at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland.  My experience there has continued to impact my professional life positively ever since.  The professional contacts I made that spring led to a phenomenal summer job working with the Maldives Mission to the United Nations preparing a report to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights on the implications of climate change on human rights.  My hands-on experience in Geneva set me apart from other applicants, and led to job opportunities opening at the State Department and the Department of Justice post-graduation.  While I opted to join the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental and Natural Resources Division as an honors attorney and am no longer working on international legal issues in my day to day work, I maintain close connections to mentors in Geneva.”  

-- Kim Smaczniak ‘08
Honors Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice,
Environmental and Natural Resources Division

Last modified: December 02, 2014

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