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Abigail Minor, a junior at Auburn University studying public relations, had the same questions many students wishing to live and work abroad have: How do you pick up and move your life to a different country? How does the language barrier affect your experience? How do I combat homesickness? It wasn’t until she was accepted to the Auburn International Mentoring Program, or AIM, and paired with international alumna Kirsten McConnell Grenside ’87 that her questions received answers and her dream of living and working abroad became a reality. This summer, Minor will embark on an eight-week public relations internship in Malta with the Finesse Group.

During fall 2021, Grenside asked Minor to share her career goals and desired jobs in the public relations field. Because of her media background, Grenside was able to explain to Minor that her field of interest was actually much broader than she initially thought. Through their discussions, Grenside assisted Minor in breaking down those broad areas and ideas, and it eventually became clear which direction to take. Grenside reached out to a trusted friend who runs her own public relations business, Finesse Group, in the hopes that she would also help guide Minor. What started off as an exploratory Zoom call ended up in Minor being offered an internship in Malta.

This summer, while living with Grenside in Malta, Minor will work on public relations, planning campaigns and events, as well as creating digital content for blogs, websites and social media, an area in which she is excited to grow her skills. Additionally, Minor will be introduced to the Finesse Group’s consultancy and training, customer curation and online learning services, while also working on international product development as the company transitions from being Europe-centric to a global business.

“There is a plethora of learning opportunities for me and I cannot wait to develop my professional skills and enhance my understanding of international public relations,” said Minor. “I have the AIM Program to thank for my internship and for all the connections I have already made. It has helped me jumpstart my career and achieve all my dreams.”

The Auburn International Mentoring Program pairs select, motivated students with successful alumni living and working abroad for a unique mentorship experience that is mutually beneficial. Students get advice and clear direction on living and working abroad; alumni get to share their experiences and expertise; and together they establish a long-term relationship that lasts beyond the duration of the program. This is certainly true for Minor and Grenside.

Grenside, once director of international business development for National Geographic Channel in London and previously vice president for Chello Broadband in Amsterdam, has lived in Europe since 1994 and had a successful career in cable television and media for more than 25 years. When she read about the AIM Program offered by the Office of International Programs, she immediately jumped at the opportunity to share her experiences with students in the hopes that they may get to fulfill their dreams of living and working abroad. Grenside, who out of sheer determination made her international career a reality, was overjoyed that Auburn now offered a program specifically tailored to students’ international career interests.

“It is so important for everybody to understand cultures, customs and history beyond their own boundaries,” said Grenside. “The AIM Program is an immediate introduction into the international world for the student and broadens their horizons beyond the state and even the country.”

It can be intimidating and difficult to navigate the path to a career abroad. That is why the AIM Program exists. AIM provides students with guidance from alumni who have already walked the path, and along the way both the student and their mentor receive a long-term personal and professional contact. As Minor put it, “the AIM Program is not a box you put a check in, but a gateway to a world of opportunities.”

To learn more about the Auburn International Mentoring Program, visit the Office of International Programs website. Applications for 2022-23 will be available in August.

Minor and Grenside

Abigail Minor, left, and Kirsten McConnell Grenside