Magazine On-line [spring 2009]
Email this link to a friend


Capitalizing on study abroad in England

mFor some students, study abroad is an interesting and valuable endeavor, but ultimately an interlude on their way to other career and life destinations. With Matt Bricken ’02, the experience had a much more profound impact, leading to career opportunities and influencing his decision on where to live.

Bricken’s semester in London, which included an internship with a Member of Parliament (MP), confirmed his interest in British politics and culture. His employment at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., several years ago and his current residence in London, where he works for a market research company, are outcomes directly related to his study abroad experience.

“Study abroad was one of the features of Transylvania that was a big plus when I was looking at different colleges,” Bricken says. “I also found it very easy to arrange, with the great help you get from the Transy staff.”

Bricken completed the Transy/London Term at Regent’s College during winter term of his junior year. One of Transy’s more popular study abroad offerings, the program has American and international students living on campus in beautiful Regent’s Park while taking a variety of coursework and enjoying the cultural amenities of one of the world’s leading cities.

Besides taking courses in English literature and contemporary communications, Bricken landed an internship with an MP who was running for reelection. He was asked to stay on an extra four weeks to work on the MP’s eventually successful campaign.
“That was a very exciting and rewarding time,” Bricken says. “He invited me to come down to his constituency in south London to live and do the campaign with him. It was the biggest kind of confidence builder because I knew my hard work was being appreciated.”

After receiving his B.A. degree from Transy in political science, with a minor in communication, Bricken headed for Washington, D.C., to earn a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University. He spent the next two years taking courses at night while working during the day, including a six-month stint as coordinator of volunteers with the presidential primary campaign of then-U.S. Representative Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.).

In the early summer of 2004, Bricken received his M.A. from George Washington on a Saturday and began work at the British Embassy the following Monday. It was during the application and interview process for the embassy position that his Transy study abroad experience stood him in good stead.

“They wanted an American who had worked on Capitol Hill and had some D.C. political acumen, but who also had a good idea of how things worked in the UK (United Kingdom). My having been in the UK on study abroad and having done the internship made the difference. I was exactly what they were looking for.”

Bricken spent two-and-a-half years with the embassy, ending as research and policy analyst. An interesting part of his work was researching bills in Congress, providing the information to interested ministers or MPs in London, then arranging for them to travel from the UK and meet with American senators or representatives involved with the bill.

Bricken decided to return to London because the embassy work had no future for advancement (open only to British Foreign Service workers), and he was yearning to get some more experience in the UK. He worked first at Dod’s Parliamentary Communications, then joined YouGovStone in August 2008, where he is a senior research executive. The on-line market research agency provides tailor-made research to clients such as KPMG, Goldman Sachs, and the U.S. Embassy in London.

“YouGovStone is a step up for me, and also focuses more on the commercial side than the political research that I did at Dod’s,” Bricken says. “For instance, I did some work for a cellular phone company on the business angles. At Dod’s, I would have looked into the regulatory environment.”

Bricken lives in a flat (apartment) in Islington, a neighborhood in the heart of London, and rides the tube (subway) to work and entertainment destinations. He enjoys the opportunity to greet Transy students coming to London for the same Regent’s College semester Bricken enjoyed as a student.

“Kathy Simon (Transy’s director of study abroad and special programs) and I are in touch by e-mail as to who’s coming. I have them over for dinner and a good chat. It’s tons of fun for me to see people who are the age I was, coming to London and being excited about it all. And it lets me stay in touch with what’s going on at Transy.”

With each passing year and new career opportunity, Bricken sees the value of his Transylvania education, including courses with political science professor Don Dugi and writing, rhetoric, and communication instructor Gary Deaton.

“Dr. Dugi felt I did well in my junior seminar class that included a public research project, and that’s closely related to the work I’m doing now. You also have to know how to communicate with people, and Gary Deaton’s classes gave me many practical lessons that have been immediately applicable to my life and career.”

Bricken plans to return to the states sometime in the next few years and continue his career, possibly in the Washington, D.C., area.

“I’ll have more than four years of experience in London doing polling and research, and communicating with clients, and hopefully that will be attractive to firms in America.”

– William A. Bowden

Produced by Office of Publications three times a year