On Saturday, January 28, 2017, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted a Global Careers Workshop in the FedEx Global Education Center.
David Patton, executive vice president of the American Councils for International Education, opened the morning with a speech on how an international education can help students find a job. Patton was introduced by Jonathan Hartlyn, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. After Patton’s talk, students split into breakout groups based on world region, before finishing the afternoon with a meet-and-greet at which they could network with and ask questions of faculty, staff and alumni.
Patton explained that the competencies students gain from time abroad fall into three main categories. Students develop specific knowledge, learning new languages and particular facts about other countries. Students develop new skills, like observation, listening and evaluation abilities. Finally, students may develop new attitudes, like respect, curiosity and an eagerness to make others feel valued.
Such abilities are valued by everyone from the Harvard Business School to Microsoft, he explained, even for positions that are not explicitly global in nature. According to Patton, when asked what his company was looking for, the human resources director of Microsoft cited things like cross-cultural understanding.
“Remember, this is not necessarily an internationally focused approach…but this is what Microsoft expects to see,” Patton said. “These are all things that your international experience gives you.”
In the breakout sessions, regional experts elaborated on Patton’s guidance with area specific advice. Some advice was practical, as when Katie Lindner, executive director of the Center for European Studies, reminded graduates to use British spelling when applying to jobs in Europe. Others focused on providing moral support and reminding students to look at the big picture.
Caroline Zullo, a 2015 alumna and a participant in the Middle East panel, cautioned students to think about what kind of positions they are really looking for and only apply to jobs they would be excited about accepting.
“Quantity is not what you need,” Zullo advised.
Stressed-out seniors who still have not found post-graduate jobs were encouraged to take a deep breath and remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Margo Balboni has worked as an English teacher in France, at an NGO in Jordan and now works as a research associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. However, she remembers how stressed she felt upon graduating from UNC in 2013.
“I went through a period of being very overwhelmed and putting a lot of applications in the internet black hole,” Balboni explained.
The workshop was sponsored by the UNC African Studies Center; Carolina Asia Center; Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations; Center for European Studies; Center for Global Initiatives; Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies; Curriculum in Global Studies; Curriculum in Peace, War and Defense; Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies; Department of Asian Studies; Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures; Department of Public Policy; Institute for the Study of the Americas; UNC Career Services; College of Arts and Sciences; UNC Global; and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies.
By Sasha Gombar ’17