North­eastern mar­keting major Bethany O’Meara did a lot more than spin her wheels on co-​​op with French bicycle-​​tour com­pany Cyclomundo.

She revamped the com­pany web­site to appeal to English-​​speaking clients, wrote press releases and pro­mo­tional mate­rial, and pitched the company’s envi­ron­men­tally friendly travel to poten­tial clients.

A high­light was han­dling press inquiries after the New York Times pub­lished an article that thrust the small oper­a­tion in the French Alpine region into the lime­light. O’Meara stepped up, fielding press and cus­tomer calls and honing her com­mu­ni­ca­tions skills.

It was, says O’Meara, an unpar­al­leled way to develop inde­pen­dence and con­fi­dence. Back on campus to finish her senior year, the Southington, Conn., native is ener­gized, believing that her mar­keting skills can open doors for her any­where in the world, and that she has learned how to adapt to another culture.

Working abroad taught me to live and work inde­pen­dently,” she says. “It’s the most inde­pen­dent you can be without grad­u­ating and being in the ‘real world’: I sup­ported myself, bought all my food, cooked all my meals, and arranged for all my travel. I became more con­fi­dent in so many ways.”

O’Meara’s six-​​month stay wasn’t all work. She man­aged a couple of excur­sions on her company-​​issued bicycle, and greatly improved her spoken lan­guage through daily chats with her land­lords, two real estate agents.

Before I went to France, I had a high com­pe­tence in French, but low con­fi­dence,” she says. “Living there, I became quicker at under­standing and speaking rapid French.”

Prior to her posi­tion at Cyclo­mundo, O’Meara held co-​​ops at Com­mon­wealth Museum (Jan­uary to June 2007) and MFS Man­age­ment (Jan­uary to June 2008).