OXFORD, UK – He would show up to a Wednesday class hung over. He was the first person in his family to attend college. And, just like the 37 St. Bonaventure University students who sat in front of him Thursday evening, he had a life-changing, eye-opening summer in Oxford, England.
Meet Josh Popsie, a 2013 graduate of St. Bonaventure, who earlier this year left a job as head of digital marketing at Icelandair to become manager of global digital marketing at SC Johnson & Son Inc.
Mike Jones-Kelley, director of the SBU Francis E. Kelley Oxford Program and a faculty member in the SBU Jandoli School of Communication, offered this introduction: “Meet Josh Popsie, an all-around great guy.”
For the sixth straight year, Popsie returned to Oxford to give St. Bonaventure students a seminar in what he calls ‘actionable things,’ - tips that they can use as resumes, job applications, LinkedIn profiles and employment interviews loom larger in their lives.
And he noted that during their summer at Trinity College of the University of Oxford, St. Bonaventure students have not only lived and made connections with other American students from various universities but with people who live in the United Kingdom or are in England from countries all over the world.
Popsie told them that the opportunities to make connections and memories with people from different countries, states and universities make the SBU Oxford program unique.
And he shared a story of interactions he had with employees at a local hookah bar, and how it still carries him today.
“The hookah bar has a lot of Muslim people,” Popsie said. “I used to frequent there quite a bit. Instead of going there and smoking all the time, I talked to the guys that worked there, and got to know them. I became really good friends with them, and they invited me to the closing feast of Ramadan. It was just me and them. That experience didn’t change my life around, but it changed my perception of different people from different backgrounds.”
While meeting people from different backgrounds has been a special staple of this trip since its beginnings, Popsie elaborated on how studying abroad, especially in Oxford, is something that sets job applicants apart from one another.
“It’s really hard to find college graduates with any international experience,” Popsie said, pointing to a statistic in his slide show that showed only 10 percent of college students study abroad. “You’ve made a great decision.”
And with that great decision, according to Popsie, comes learning how to use it as a weapon on a resume and in an interview setting.
"You have to be able to articulate how this experience at Oxford impacted you,” Popsie said. “A lot of people struggle with that. You can throw Oxford on your resume, that doesn’t tell me anything. All I know is that you went to England and got drunk for six weeks.”
He continued, “It’s not just an education. Tell an employer why this is on your resume. Talk about the classes you took here, and what you did. Separate this Oxford experience out in your resume. It’s what has worked for me, and it’s still something I do today.”
Finding a job can be a daunting task, and Popsie shed light on how to effectively look for employment. It’s finding the right job, not just a job.
"We get so ingrained in ‘oh my God I need to make money; I need to get out of my house,’” Popsie said. “There’s a lot of talented people that end up at a job that they don’t like. They don’t move up. They’re stuck. That’s the issue. Every job is not for you. You have to be selective when you apply. You will find a job. Whether it’s six months down the line or nine months. Everything is going to be okay. It’s the right job, not a job.”
Popsie emphasized having a strong network and pointed out that because he was the first person in his family to attend college, he lacked one. But his St. Bonaventure and Oxford experiences changed that for him. He told the students they should keep their networks close to them, and when someone valuable reaches out, they should talk to them.
"It’s a who-knows-who-world,” Popsie said. “When I got to Bonaventure and when I came here, I wanted to know everyone, especially people I saw value in. When people reach out, more often than not, they want to help you. Try to keep in touch with valuable people on a regular basis. Don’t reach out once, ignore them for two years, and come back to that person when you’re looking for a job.”
Though the Oxford program and the experiences that come with it can be used as a professional resume builder, Popsie applies his experiences to anything he can, not just to resumes, interviews, and LinkedIn profiles.
Popsie left one final message for the 37 students who will be saying goodbye to Oxford Aug. 16 and saying hello to another new school year at St. Bonaventure Aug. 26.
“There are still things I experienced here that help me every day,” Popsie said. “This experience can tie back to a lot of different things. After all the dust settles down, the experiences you had here and how they affected you will stick with you. Reflect on how you changed.”
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