Boost Your Career Potential With a Global Perspective

Boost Your Career Potential by Preparing to Work in a Global Workplace

As students make career plans for after graduation, they often think about the most marketable degrees, the skills needed for a new job, or knowledge that’s required to enter a new industry or field. However, preparing for work in a global economy is a new aspect of career development that every student should consider. This is because you will likely find that employers are looking for graduates with an ability to interact effectively with both customers and employees of diverse cultural backgrounds.

It used to be in college classes that business students were the ones most concerned with studying the diverse cultural aspects of the marketplace, and developing global skills meant learning a second language. However, that has changed and global education is more than acquisition of skills; it also includes developing a global mindset or cultural awareness.

Why a Global Education is Necessary

The need for a global education has become a national conversation, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stressed the importance of preparing Americans for a global workplace. An Education Week blog post, Grads: Get Globally Competent and Get a Job!, discussed the need to learn a second language. It references a Forbes article, The Top Majors For The Class Of 2022 that recommend learning the Spanish language due to the increased number of Hispanics in the United States. It has been estimated that the Hispanic population increase accounted for over half of the total nationwide population growth.

The Forbes article also indicated that the hospitality industry is going to experience continued growth over the next ten years. The China National Tourism Administration predicts that “Chinese domestic travel will reach 3.3 billion trips in 2015 and expand by 5% – 8% each year until 2030.” The number of tourists that are projected to visit the U.S. is “expected to double from the record-setting number of 1.1 million in 2011.” Chinese tourists spend an average of $6,000 per trip, as compared to $4,000 spent per trip by visitors from other countries. This has created a need for employees who can speak Mandarin and Cantonese, and have an ability to relate to the needs of international visitors.

No longer is a global skillset required only for businesses that have international operations and customers. Our society, along with the workplace in general, has become multicultural in nature and if you are prepared to work in this type of job market, you will likely have an advantage.

Developing the Required Mindset and Skillset

What does it mean to be globally educated? While there are degree programs specifically designed for international studies, business leaders and educators are recognizing the need for other skills that can be acquired by most college students.

A McGraw-Hill Research Foundation report, Developing Human Capital: Meeting the Growing Global Need for a Skilled and Educated Workforce, encourages businesses and educators to work together to prepare students for the demands of a global workplace that has become dependent on technology. The report identified three important characteristics that are highly sought after by employers:
1. Global Mindset: Being able to work in a multicultural society.
2. Systematic Thinking: This group of skills includes problem-solving, higher-order critical thinking and analysis, and collaboration.
3. Lifelong Learning: Understanding the importance of continuous learning as businesses operate within an information-driven environment.

The work you’re doing as a college student is crucial to development of these skills. You demonstrate critical analysis through your written assignments and collaborate with others when assigned to participate in group projects. But there is also more that you can do to be prepared.

Additional Options to Gain Multicultural Experience

Career consultant Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, author of Go Global! and Get Ahead by Going Abroad, offered this advice in her article, Preparing Our Students for the Global Marketplace: “many job seekers mistakenly think that domestic job search can simply be tweaked for international positions. Not so. Global employers need to know as much about an applicant's international credentials and personal traits as they do about their professional abilities.” She believes you can develop a global mindset by studying world news, global markets, and world events. You can also use social media to follow global business and stay current with international business trends.

Nevadomski Berdan also recommends pursuing language studies, seeking globally-related coursework, and if possible, participating in an international exchange or working as an intern. A recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that a majority of students who had paid internships received a job offer for after graduation. In contrast, only 38 percent of students who accepted unpaid internships received job offers. Another option you may consider prior to starting your college degree program is to take a gap year and volunteer abroad. Projects Abroad, one of many gap year organizations, has opportunities available in 27 worldwide locations. Lattitude Global Volunteering indicates that volunteering is about “helping people, meeting people, learning about people and another culture." Some of the positions include care assistant, community outreach worker, teacher, medical assistant, and environment volunteer.

Getting a degree is an important step in your career development plans but in order to be highly marketable you’ll need to consider that many businesses and industries are multicultural in nature. You can further your job options by acquiring a global perspective of the workplace. The proactive steps you take now can help boost your resume and overall career potential.

You can follow Dr. Bruce A. Johnson on Twitter @DrBruceJ and Google+.

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