Strategies to Pursue an International Career
1. Possess Strong Cross-Cultural and Personal Skills
The ability to work effectively with others - in one-on-one and group settings - is key for pursuing an international career. You also need to be:
- Adaptable - You will often find yourself operating within a foreign context;
- Flexible - Plans and projects often don't work abroad as expected; and
- Innovative - Unexpected obstacles and opportunities are likely in foreign countries.
- Pursue study- and work-abroad experiences. Talk to your academic advisor; consult the annual books Academic Year Abroad and Short-Term Study Abroad from the Institute for International Education (both housed in Xavier's McDonald Library); and consider volunteer opportunities abroad. Working abroad is especially valued by employers, so you should attempt to work abroad for two to six months as an intern, co-op student (often these are paid positions), or volunteer, preferably in your field of expertise. Strongly consider a year-long international experience.
- Volunteer for the Interlink Mentor Program, an orientation program to welcome new international students and help them acclimate to life at Xavier and the US. Visit Xavier's Romero International Center for more information and applications.
- Join in the activities - and volunteer to help plan them - at the Romero International Center. At a minimum, attend the monthly coffee hours, sponsored by various offices and international student clubs on campus. Check out the Global Gazette that describes activities and events.
- Join a Xavier internationally-focused student organizations such as the:
- French Club,
- Irish-American Club,
- Italian-American Club,
- Japanese Club,
- Middle Eastern Cultural Society,
- South Asian Society,
- Spanish Club,
- Student Organization of Latinos
2. Possess Good Functional Knowledge
It is important for some jobs, to display good knowledge that provides specific, concrete value to your employer.
- Take courses that build your knowledge in a particular area - or volunteer for a local agency that will provide you with experience or training - such as grant writing or organizing events, working with others from a specific region, or working in a financial setting.
- Pursue a Masters in Diplomacy or Foreign Affairs, an MBA, or Masters in International Management. Pick your program and university carefully: Know what you want from the degree and do your homework. Ensure that the program you select has strengths that promote your career goals; some also focus on a specific region of the world.
3. Know the Key Issues/Trends in International Affairs - and Facing any Organization or Region of Your Interest
When you converse with mentors, network, and interview, you must display (1) solid knowledge of the political, economic, and social forces shaping the world plus (2) specific awareness of the key issues and trends that are relevant to the organization or region for which you may have a career interest.
- Read the weekly Economist magazine on a regular basis.
- Read other news outlets and books that address either the diplomatic, political, or economic issues for a specific region or organization in which you may have an interest.
4. Develop a Strategy for Starting your Career
- Prepare a short, focused pitch to explain - clearly and concretely - what you want.
- Develop a CV that highlights your unique (relevant) educational accomplishments (majors, minors, perhaps specific courses that are highly relevant) and internationally-oriented experiences. If you are applying for a job in a foreign country, use the internet and library resources to ensure your CV is tailored to the local culture. If you are applying for a job opportunity written in a foreign language, respond in that language.
- Obtain a mentor with international career experience and ask questions such as: "Given my education and experiences at this point, what would you do next?"
"What strategies to get into international business did you find that were the most successful?"
"If you were to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?"
(Though you are located in the College of Arts & Sciences, you may use the Mentor Program of the Williams College of Business.)
5. Network and Identify Potential Employers
First, you need to know if you have types of organizations and/or regions in which you are interested - and be able to demonstrate your knowledge about them (Strategies under Part3), as well as know your strengths and have a good pitch for contacts (Strategies under Part 4). Now you are ready for your job search.
- Join and attend of the activities of the World Affairs Council (which is housed in the Global Center of Greater Cincinnati).
- Review the career links, especially web sites of the US Departments of State and Commerce, as well as UN regional development banks and commissions.
- Use mentors to provide you with contacts after - and only after - you know them well (and they know you).
- Keep a journal to keep track of who you have contacted and when you need to follow up. Remember to send a thank you note to anyone who helps you.
Especially for those interested in working and living abroad:
- Join and become active in a local organization with connections to the country or region of interest:
- Japan America Society of Greater Cincinnati
- Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce
- European-American Chamber of Commerce-Cincinnati Chapter
- Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Use the Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce to identify companies from your target country or region operating here.
- Identify companies on the stock exchanges of your target region or country.
- When considering organizations to work for,
- Decide which kinds of organizations to target for employment - considering the match of your skills with their needs; and
- Consider where a particular organization has operations and is likely to send you.