Going International

So you’ve studied abroad. Now what? Let’s say you’ve taken a foreign language course. Why did you spend the time? You’re involved in an international club or organization. How will this benefit you? Why is this cultural awareness necessary? Having a global perspective is now crucial to the workforce, as millions of cross-border relationships are developing in various sectors in the economy. Your international experiences matter; showcase them and continue to grow them with the CAP Global Perspective Module.

“When I traveled in Paris and London for study abroad, I kept a journal with me the entire time. At the end of the day I would reflect on the things that I learned from the people around me. I went to a concert at Wembley Stadium in London and spent time with two English girls in the line. We had some lingo barriers. For example, a Bandaid is called a rubber and pants are trousers and underwear are pants. At one point one of the girls looked at her friend and said ‘Shannon she doesn’t know what you’re saying.’ By writing this experience down in my journal I was able to reflect on the small differences in language that lead to misunderstandings within different cultures.”      -Kaitlin Obermeyer

Even some of the most memorable experiences require reflection. Below is a list of reasons why it’s necessary to reflect on these international experiences:

Reveal Importance: Recording your international experiences will reveal the impact they have made on your future plans and your self growth. Writing them down will make thoughts, facts and feelings more clear and remind yourself of what to focus on when it comes to these experiences.

Refer Back: Ideas do not stay for long, so it’s important to refer back to what you have learned in the past and keep these big ideas flowing. Reading back through past records of international experience is fascinating and provides valuable insight into particular moments and thought processes.



Inspire a Broader Understanding: Truly recognizing cultural differences requires having meaningful conversations, respecting different world-views and escaping comfort zones. Having these amazing experiences is one thing, but being able to apply them to daily life is what makes them matter in the long run.


Form Future Goals: Students with international skills and cultural awareness often have better job prospects when they graduate. Not sure where to start? Check out this guide. Being able to communicate your “international work skills” to employers could be the key to landing your dream career.
The American work and social culture has moved away from solely communicating and building relationships within our own country. We have expanded our friends, family and team members to people from all over the world. Whether or not you have traveled abroad, it’s likely you have had global relations or cultural experiences. The CAP Global Perspective Module exists to inform students about the importance of cultural awareness and international skills, while allowing them to reflect on the significance of their international experiences.


Meaningful Connections

They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, so how does one go about meeting the right people? How can we use these connections to leverage a career or pursue a passion? Below are four, but not all, of the ways you can effectively network and build relationships that matter.

Hang out with the right people. This does not mean to just seek out the wealthiest, most well-known, big name people or companies. In fact, that may not be your style at all. Find people who are like you and who share the same interests and passions. People who share common attributes will be attracted to the same type of jobs and organizations. These individuals will offer experience and advice that you actually find interesting and may propel your career forward.


Be authentic. Going along with the above advice, know who you are and where you want to be. The more real you are with the people around you, the more likely you are to land a career that aligns with your personality. If you’re not sure what you have to offer yet, take a few personality tests to better showcase that authenticity. Do What You Are, StrengthsQuest and Strong Interest Inventory will all give you further insight into your behavior patterns, work preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

Utilize LinkedIn. This is the ultimate ‘people connecting people’ outlet. Strictly for professional use, LinkedIn specializes in meaningful connections. One of the best resources on this site is the “Find Alumni” section, where you can search graduates of your university, where they work, what they do, what they’ve studied and how you’re connected. Don’t worry, you’re not being annoying; they were begging for a job at one point, as well.

Follow up. You will not be offered a job by shaking the hand of a working professional, exchanging business cards and leaving. Take the extra time to shoot them an email, add them on LinkedIn, or request another meeting over a cup of coffee (you buy). People are people everywhere you go, and the only relationships that matter are those that are nurtured and invested in. Be persistent and personable, as you would with a friend.


It’s important to find the people and experiences in your life that have propelled you forward or inspired you the most. The Career Advancement Program Meaningful Connections Module inspires reflection on people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had together, and the significance of these relationships. After all, you didn’t get where you are today on your own.


Academic Learning

Think big picture. Think curiosity. Think creativity. Think using your personality, skillsets, hobbies, classroom knowledge, travel experiences, relationships and more to land yourself a dream career. Wishful thinking? Not according to the current talent-seeking field.

Being a T-shaped individual is a recent term that many companies are using in seeking candidates for management, consulting, research and other leadership positions. The vertical stem in the “T” represents the in-depth specialized knowledge of one or two fields (such as your major or field of study), while the horizontal crossbar refers to the complementary skills of communication, creativity, and ability to apply knowledge across situations. This is where out-of-classroom experience and curiosity about the world come in. The path to employment is not so linear anymore – employers today are longing for well-rounded, multidisciplinary workers to add to their team.sticky-notes.jpg


So the question is, how are you setting yourself up to be “T-shaped”?

Be open to change. Have new experiences, seek out more challenging positions, and enroll in diverse courses. Accept an internship that you may not initially be good at but will grow your skillsets in the long run. What a time to be alive, when we are not forced to chose one expertise, but rather encouraged to broaden our capabilities and intelligence.

Identify your core strengths. How can you apply these in particular settings? How do they make you unique? Learn to verbalize these strengths with confidence. It’s ok to talk about yourself sometimes.

Be optimistic. Don’t go through the motions; tell yourself that what you are learning is useful. You never know when you will be able to apply that outrageously long equation or dreadful sales pitch to the next interview. A positive (usually) always comes from a negative.


Similar to the author of this brilliant post, many students have the urge to try new things and not tie themselves down to the same desk in the same city for life. Fortunately, students no longer have to choose whether to be a business guru, a marketing professional, or a finance expert, or a health specialist, as dipping their toes into a little bit of everything may be the most treasured approach in the end.


The Career Advancement Program Academic Learning Module will help students reflect on their past experiences, skillsets, and future goals to obtain a gratifying, successful and meaningful career.