Study Abroad Alumni: Clay Hopes Clay Hopes Mechanical Engineering & Entrepreneurial Studies, 2009
“I was free to be myself, free to try new things, free to do whatever I was interested in. This helped me learn who I was, where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do.” Iowa State alumnus Clay Hopes started planning his study abroad adventure as a kid growing up in Treynor, Iowa. “My friend’s older brother spent a semester in Australia, so he and I always talked about going there because we thought it would be a cool experience in college.” Clay followed those dreams to spend a semester in Newcastle, Australia, but he didn’t stop there. “What I didn’t know was that I would keep going abroad; it got a little addictive,” says Clay of his multiple study, intern, and work abroad experiences. Clay went on to study for a summer in Germany and a semester in Scotland, completed a summer internship in Germany, and recently graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, with a Master’s degree in Management Technology & Economics. “After Australia, Europe was like the next step – something more interesting and challenging. Why not go to Europe? In Europe, you can get on a train for an hour and you’re in a completely different culture, different language, different food, different landscape. Everything is completely different. If you go for an hour drive in Iowa, you’re still in the same cornfield.”
Study Abroad Alumni: Clay Hopes When asked about his favorite study abroad memory, Clay answered, “All the people I met and relationships I created during my time abroad. There’s a lot of people from around the world who are also studying abroad, so developing a network of people comes in handy when you want to travel the world later on.” Studying abroad not only permitted Clay to establish a strong worldwide network, it also set Clay up with a solid résumé and set of transferable skills. “One of the things about going abroad is it helps you see the value of different ways of thinking and diverse backgrounds. Studying abroad has given me a perspective of areas outside of engineering. I can bring in an outside perspective and work with people of different cultures, which provides value to the companies I’ve worked for. It adds to the flexibility in my decision making and adjusting my style to who I’m talking to or working with. Studying abroad is one of the best things I could have done [to prepare for a job].” Clay recently accepted a job with Franke, a private international manufacturing company based in Switzerland. “I’ll play an international role where I will get to travel to operating companies all over Europe, learn about the basics of business at each of those companies, and help them develop reporting solutions so they can make better decisions. It’s an entrepreneurial, global company with a lot of opportunity to continue developing and moving up. What’s most important to me is doing something I love, so it’s not a job, but more a way of life.” This position will surely satisfy Clay’s ambitious sojourner lifestyle. However, his new international career will not entirely fulfill his passion for traveling. “I’m always looking for the next place to go, the next step to take. The next place I’d like to go is China and see more of Asia. In the long run, I’ve realized I’ve seen a lot more of the rest of the world than the US, and I would like to get around the US. When I find time, I’ll go and see what happens.” For students who are considering studying abroad, Clay offers some advice: “Iowa State has all sorts of programs available that are already set up and make it [the application process] easy. I highly suggest you go abroad at least once, at least for a semester. If you can do a year, do a year. Go somewhere out of the ordinary, go somewhere that will challenge yourself because you’ll get a lot more out of it, and it will stay with you for the rest of your life.” “If I never studied abroad…I have no idea where I would be. I would surely regret not doing all of the incredible things I have done. You can learn a lot about yourself when you go away from everyone you know. I was free to be myself, free to try new things, free to do whatever I was interested in. This helped me learn who I was, where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do.”
Study Abroad Alumni: Clay Hopes Clay has certainly found his calling and continues to set his personal and professional goals very high. “I’m very excited to see where I’m going next because it’s like every time a new opportunity comes up, it’s always something more interesting, something even better than before.” All of us here at the Study Abroad Center wish you the best of luck, Clay, and cannot wait to hear about more of your adventures abroad. Thanks for sharing!
Photos provided by: Clay Hopes Story written by: Kayla Nielsen Published in the Study Abroad Center newsletter, We’re Going Places