One of the biggest things that can make a candidate stand out in an interview is having international experience. With an increasing global economy, it is extremely beneficial for students to get international experience and become more marketable and well rounded.
At Ohio University there is a program called “The Global Leadership Center” or GLC. The GLC is a two-year certificate program that focuses on developing “internationally-minded, locally-engaged leaders in all walks of life.” The purpose of this program is to make students better rounded and skilled, both professionally and culturally so they are prepared for working with international clients or on international projects.
Examples of past GLC projects have included working on juvenile justice and oil regulations in Ghana, transatlantic relations in Germany and marketing for Marriott International. When I heard about this program I applied immediately! What a great way to broaden my international horizons and learn about other countries while also earning my degree. The nice thing about the GLC is that it is open to all majors and truly complements all majors, since at some point in time you will most likely work with other countries or cultures in some way or another.
With that being said, this summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia and work with the GLC in Vietnam for two weeks and then later travel to Thailand and Hong Kong. I can honestly say that going on my first trip abroad was an eye-opening experience that will greatly impact the rest of my life. I am now a 100% firm believer that everyone needs to have an international experience in their lifetime, especially if you are still in college. Here’s why:
1. You learn about different types of work ethic. In the US, we have a very fast paced go, go, go! work ethic where we don’t stop until the work gets done, even if that means working through lunch or staying late hours. In other countries that’s not necessarily the case. While in Vietnam, my teammates would always take breaks from our work for a 2-3 hour lunch break, in which they would also take a nap. Believe it or not, a lot of countries are like this! Naps, going home for lunch and “tea time” are very common around the world and that’s something to be mindful of when working with international clients.
2. Language barriers. There’s going to be a time in your life when you come in contact with someone where there is a language barrier. Luckily, if you go on a trip abroad you are more likely going to be comfortable with that situation and know how to handle it. You might even learn a little bit of a language by talking with locals and learn important words or phrases that you would need to use in a business setting.
3. Companies are going global. Most US companies are no longer just in the US. They are starting to spread offices and networks around the world to expand and grow their markets. For example, Google has offices in the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and different parts of Asia! Nike also has offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and well-known PR firm Weber Shandwick has 74 offices in more than 30 countries! With that being said, your company may send you on business trips or transfer you to an international office and it would be extremely beneficial to you (as well as making you more marketable) to have already had an international experience.
4. Maturity. According to a spokeswoman in a recent New York Times article, “Often global understanding indicates maturity.” When you travel to another country you open your eyes and perspective to other cultures and countries, which often times leads to a newfound maturity. Also, when abroad you are forced to navigate in a foreign place, adjust to local customs and gain independency, which is an important part of your college experience.
5. College is the best time to travel. When you’re in college you typically don’t have too many full-time commitments such as a full-time job, a spouse, kids etc. making it easier for you to travel. There are also tons of scholarships and grants available as well cheap flights and using hostels.
Overall having an international experience will make you standout in the workplace and impress employers. You will gain a diverse skill-set and knowledge as well as internationally minded thinking. If you go to OU and you are considering a trip abroad check out the Ohio University Office of Education Abroad for more information! Don’t miss out on the chance of a lifetime.
-Cidnye Weimer is a junior studying strategic communications with a minor in business administration and a Global Leadership Certificate. Check her out at @CidnyeWeimer.