Discovering the world through experiential learning

As a kid, Maryam Talieh received a prescient piece of advice from her dad, who was born in Iran and grew up in England.

“The best way to learn about the world,” he told his daughter, “is to go out and be in the world.”

Last fall, Talieh, now a 21-year-old junior sociology major at Northeastern University, acted on her father’s words of wisdom.

From September to December, the Saratoga, Calif., native served as a leadership program coordinator on co-op for the Paris-based Safran Group, a high-technology conglomerate with core businesses in aerospace, defense and security.

In her role, Talieh booked hotels, set up business simulations and organized cultural events for more than three dozen junior-level managers within Safran. “When I applied for the position at Safran, I thought I would be doing paperwork and filing, but I was surprised by the amount of responsibility the job entailed,” she said.

Talieh also had the opportunity to polish her foreign-language skills, which include fluent Spanish and conversational French. As she put it, “I learned more French in Paris in a few months than I had in three semesters in class.”

The experiential-learning opportunity convinced Talieh to expand her career outlook and seek out another international co-op in hospitality at a Hong Kong hotel for the fall semester. “Now there’s a chance to do something I never expected,” she explained.

Like her dad, she encouraged all students to work or study abroad for at least one semester. “You may never get this opportunity again,” Talieh said. “Go see the world because it’s absolutely worth it.”