Duke experts offer advice on how international experience can enhance your career.
-By Alexis Owens
Global experience could be what sets you apart from others while applying for a job or post-graduate studies. Below, our campus experts outline five ways to gain international experience and apply it to your career goals.
1. Create global networks
Making global connections can start on social media, says Marion Pratt, director of global careers at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Students can use their social media platforms to create global connections with others, document their experiences and keep up-to-date with global topics.
“Take full advantage of social media platforms to connect with and follow like-minded people," Pratt says. “Ask for informational interviews with people in jobs that interest you, or if you know them well and they are willing to let you, shadow them for a day at their job.”
Here are some additional tips Pratt offers to help build your global network:
- Keep up with the international news, such as The Economist, The New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal.
- Volunteer to assist local immigrant and refugee organizations.
- Go to international food and craft fairs.
2. Utilize local resources
Making global connections can start right in North Carolina. Amanda Frederick, assistant director for Duke University Center for International & Global Studies, encourages students to not only use campus resources, but to branch out locally, as well.
Here are some resources that Frederick recommends:
Visit the Global Education Office (GEO) to learn about the activities and programs they offer. Speak with GEO advisors, study away ambassadors and peer advisors about study away opportunities and the benefits of off-campus study.
- Visit Duke’s International House to learn more about how to join campus international groups and connect with international students.
- Connect with faculty from abroad or faculty who conduct programs abroad.
- Join community organizations and groups, such as Raleigh Sister Cities and International Focus.
3. Start with small steps
“Even seasoned travelers are sometimes nervous about traveling!” Marion Pratt says. “Try your first overseas experiences in small doses to build up your confidence.”
Do plenty of research before picking a study away or work abroad destination, says Pratt, because being prepared for your trip can help alleviate some of your worries.
Here is some more advice from Pratt for would-be global travelers:
- Take short volunteer or language training trips to nearby countries, such as Latin America or Caribbean nations.
- Reach out to the Duke Career Center for guidance on internships and work opportunities.
4. Highlight your experiences
There are several ways having international experience can make students more employable in the job market, according to Amanda Frederick. For example, students can provide examples from their study abroad experience and explain how those skills or qualities may relate or be beneficial in the position to which they are applying.
Here are some skills and qualities Frederick suggests:
- Identifying and solving problems (crisis management)
- Able to learn quickly in a new environment
- Seeking opportunity for continuous learning
- Cultural awareness and sensitivity
5. Apply your learned skills
Employers anticipate finding certain skills and traits when global experience is mentioned, but it is the student’s responsibility to identify what they learned, says William Wright-Swadel, assistant vice president for student affairs. Having the experience creates opportunity, he adds, and with opportunity, you are able to gain valuable skills you can apply.
“Most employers anticipate international experience will create, in candidates, an awareness of and an appreciation for difference, an ability to engage and to learn in different environments and a willingness to take some risk in securing the answers necessary to make decisions,” Wright-Swadel says.
Here’s more from Wright-Swadel on what employers hope to find in candidates with international experience:
- Individuals with different perspectives, communication styles and problem-solving processes
- Candidates who will demonstrate the ability to become a leader
- A manager who will effectively unite a diverse team in accomplishing organizational goals