The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) has chosen Ava Chisholm ’22 as part of its 39th cohort of young professionals. Chisholm will spend 11 months in Germany learning German in addition to honing his skills in media production and radio broadcasting.
“I found CBYX on ProFellow in the fall of my senior year and immediately started asking for reference letters and gathering materials,” Chisholm said. “I knew I wasn’t ready for college or a career job. I was looking for a year of more experiential learning and travel, and I’m so glad I got this opportunity.
The CBYX program has three phases: language training, studies and professional integration. After language training, Chisholm will spend a semester studying broadcast media at Stuttgart Media University before seeking an internship in her field. As a major musician and experienced sound engineer, she’ll likely find a radio station or recording studio to work in. Currently, Chisholm works remotely from his parents’ home in Montana, producing two stories a week for national broadcast as a contractor for Minnesota Public Radio. When she leaves for CBYX at the end of July, she will continue this part-time job from Germany.
A joint program of the German Bundestag and the US Congress, the CBYX for Young Professionals program “offers 75 young American and 75 German leaders the opportunity to spend up to a year in each other’s countries to study, intern and live with host families,” according to the CBYX website. “The scholarship is open to candidates from all career fields between the ages of 18 1/2 and 24 who are interested in a year of academic, professional and cultural exchange.”
CBYX’s application looked like a college application for Chisholm, who turned to Carleton staff for help perfecting his material.
“I relied a lot on my Carleton mentor, Paul Bernhardt, to help me tailor my resume and responses to just one professional activity, since it’s a professional program,” he said. she declared. “I also had Chad Ellsworth from the Career Center go through some of my application materials, which has always been helpful.”
Now that she has been accepted into the cohort, Chisholm looks forward to the immersion aspect of the CBYX program, as she has not yet studied the German language.
“I still don’t know German,” admitted Chisholm. “The first two months of the program are, however, devoted to intensive language training, before full immersion in study and work programs. So I hope I can get to it soon.
Chisholm has spent time abroad before, and with his main goal for his first year out of school being “to develop [her] sense of the world,” she looks forward to seeing how another international experience will change her perspective even further.
“I look forward to the personal development that comes from spending time abroad,” she said. “I spent my first year of university in Denmark, and although it was the hardest year of my life, I also grew a lot through the process. Being able to see into people’s lives another culture allows us to better understand our own values and ways of life.
Like many recent graduates, Chisholm doesn’t have specific career goals after the exchange ends, but she thinks her participation in the program will help her, whatever path she chooses.
“If nothing else, I believe this experience will make me a more balanced person and a thoughtful, innovative employee,” she said. “On top of that, I will learn real skills in my field from the study and work phases, and I hope to have some clarity on which career field is best for me…I could see myself finding a production job in an American city or go to graduate school and still continue to practice and play jazz guitar.
Chisholm’s advice for the current Carls? Plug in, it’s worth it.
“I strongly encourage Carleton students to seek out opportunities that may be a bit outside of the standard life path,” she said. “There’s always time for more work or more school, and not really a rush to get through it all. We are so privileged to have an education and a degree at Carleton, we might as well take advantage of the opportunities that come with it!
Students interested in applying for CBYX and other scholarships may consult the Scholarship Office.
Erica Helgerud ’20 is Carleton College’s Head of News and Social Media.