Posts filed under ‘Cultural Communication’

Women in Business: Be Assertive and Get What You Want

By Alsey Davidson

According to Business Insider, only 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Why is that? Some people say it’s because of natural trait differences, varying educational opportunities, or general societal standards. However, one of my theories is that women are either too afraid to be assertive, or they are seen as “bossy” or “bitchy” if they are assertive.

Many articles show how women are treated unfairly in the workplace (gender inequality, workplace bias). This post is not another one of those articles. Instead, this post is about my personal experience in the business world and what I have learned about being assertive. My goal is to draw on my own experiences and help show other women that being assertive can lead to being successful.

This past summer, I worked with a team of 20 men and one other woman.alsey During this experience, I noticed that my actions were sometimes viewed differently because I am a woman. For example, oftentimes I felt that the men were caught off guard when I spoke up during meetings because I was a younger female. Another time, I requested a meeting with a senior executive, and my male coworkers told me I was being too forward. It bothered me a bit at first, but I learned to brush it off by the end of the summer.

assertive

One of the most important things that I learned is that you can get what you want by asserting yourself, but you certainly won’t get it if you don’t say anything. Please note that I am saying assertive, not aggressive — i.e. defending your own rights without hurting those of others.  There is a difference, and you should be sure to not cross over into aggressiveness.

Now, I will discuss one time when asserting myself led to a very positive outcome. An important takeaway from this experience is that I wasn’t afraid to be assertive because I truly felt I deserved what I was asking for. I hope that women can learn from my experience if they are in a similar situation.

When I first received my job offer, I was not happy with the initial salary. When considering whether or not I should negotiate, I was told by my (male) coworkers that it might make me “look bad” or “seem unprofessional and ungrateful.” At first, I worried they may be right. Will I seem rude and ungrateful if I ask for more money? Then, I spoke with my career advisor and, fortunately, my opinion changed.

My advisor told me, “You should 100% negotiate. Why wouldn’t you?” When I ended up negotiating, I was very straightforward and assertive with HR; I told them that believed I deserved a higher salary due to national averages and that I needed more money to account for the high cost of living. It was as simple as that: my negotiation efforts led to a $10,000 increase in salary. HR understood my argument and met my request.

From this experience, I learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for something. If you present your case professionally and rationally, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get what you want. So the next time you think you deserve something, go for it. Don’t worry about seeming bitchy, bossy, or aggressive. If your company respects the rights of women, and if you truly deserve what you’re asking for, you should receive it.

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November 18, 2015 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

Why You Should Never Tip in China or Smile at Strangers in Denmark

by Laerke Lissau Lund-Soerensen

Given that you’re probably American, research shows that you like a post to start out with a short anecdote. Therefore, I will do as the Romans and start off with a short story. Last year, I worked as Social and Residential Advisor for American exchange students in Denmark. After a few months, I realized that several of the students thought the way I communicate negative messages was very offensive. My direct approach to problems made the American exchange students feel uncomfortable because they were used to a more indirect approach back home. As opposed to in Denmark where criticism is very straightforward, Americans tend to “sandwich” critique and place criticism between compliments.

This example is just one illustration of how cultural misperceptions and differences in communication practices and traditions can effect cross-cultural communication. Gotland University defines cross-cultural communication as “a process of exchanging, negotiating, and mediating one’s cultural differences through language, non-verbal gestures, and space relationships.”

Why Does It Matter?

In a still more globalized business world, ethnocentrism can ruin relationships and make you come across as rude and even aggressive. Ethnocentrism is defined as the belief that one’s own cultural group and customs are superior to others. People often tend to accept the values of their own culture as absolute values. This egocentric view can easily lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. With a growing focus on global markets and an interdependent economy, a proactive approach to cross-cultural communication is more important than ever.

How Do You Become An Expert?

Now that you’re convinced that effective cross-cultural communication is rather neat to master, here are a few easy steps to become an expert in international communication:

  1. Research the culture: Before travelling to another country, whether that is for business or leisure, be sure to research business etiquette, cultural sensitivities, current political events, and relevant history. For example, relationships are essential when doing business in Asia. Therefore, Chinese and Japanese business contacts will invite you for dinner, while a Swedish or Danish associate will go straight to business.
  1. Observe the customs: Notice what the locals are doing when greeting, dining, and discussing. Watch the level of formality, the role and type of humor, and attitudes toward gender roles, racism, and religion. By noticing cultural norms, values, and business ethics, you can get an understanding of how other people perceive the world. One of the first things that struck me as a Scandinavian in the US is the relatively large “power distance” and level of formality in the communication between students and professors. In Scandinavia on the other hand, the hierarchical structure is flat and the communication style very informal.
  1. Understand the values: Once you have started to get a better overview of the local culture, try to understand the behavior of the locals. LaerkeEven though you might not agree with all values and beliefs, at the very least show respect. For example, Westerners often wrinkle their noses at Chinese eating habits, which include eating black eggs and spitting trash directly on the table. But as Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture, says, if you want to be “truly global [you need to be] multifaceted and extraordinarily keen to understand the countries you are operating in.”
  1. Learn the language: English is usually the language used at multinational business meetings. However, remember English is likely not the first language for about 90% at the meeting. Therefore, make sure to speak loud and clear when speaking English. If possible, before a meeting try to learn a few phrases in the local language. When studying in Hong Kong, I quickly noticed that the locals became very excited when I could say even just a few, short phrases in Cantonese.
  1. Imitate the non-verbal: Be sure to adapt your body language to the local norms. Observe facial expressions, gestures, outfits, and touching behavior to get an idea of the non-verbal communication. Also, keep in mind that the conception of personal space differs greatly across the world.UNC A great example is President Bush holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah during a business meeting in Texas in 2005. A less formal example: studying at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I’ve quickly realized that Carolina blue is mandatory at college football games. As you can see, my group of Danish exchange students is desperately trying to adapt.

Consequently, effective cross-cultural communications doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these five simple steps, I guarantee you that your future travel experiences will be richer and smoother. And if you’re still wondering why American traditions as tipping at restaurants and smiling at strangers are no-nos in China and Denmark respectively, I can tell you that Chinese people will consider you rude and Danes will think you’re a nutcase.

November 12, 2015 at 8:20 am 10 comments

5 Tips for Women to be Successful in the Workplace

As told by top executives at the Wells Fargo Women’s Forum 2015

By Allie Halter

Did you know that only 14.6% of executives in companies nationwide are women? More strikingly, did you know that women hold only 4.6% of CEO positions? Why is this the case?  Young women today are starting their careers better educated than their male counterparts. In fact, research shows that companies with more women in executive positions make a 53% greater return on equity and 42% higher return on sales. However, women of all ages are less likely than men to ask for raises or aspire to top management jobs. Is this difference because women leave their careers to care for their families before reaching a top position? Or are women afraid to ask as a result of attitudes towards them in the workplace?Allie

Top women at Wells Fargo, an American multinational banking and financial services holding company, believe that any woman can rise to a top leadership position. I attended the 2015 Wells Fargo Women’s Forum this October and spoke with many women within Wells Fargo who offered tips for rising to the top of an organization based on their own experiences in the business world. Here are the top five tips for reaching the corner office:

Tip #1: Be Accountable. Accountability means saying what you are going to do and doing what you said you would do. Wells Fargo Senior Vice President of Treasury Management, Andrea Scalise, said she “makes sure that no matter what [she’s] doing, [she] always demonstrates accountability and responsibility by following through with commitments and showing up as a leader.” Scalise encourages women to set personal goals and be decisive when it comes to career choices. Lastly, Scalise suggests that a large part of success comes from the mistakes you make and the ability to own them, fix them, and prevent them from happening in the future. 

Tip #2: Have Confidence. Danielle Squires, Managing Director of Wells Fargo Securities, recommends that pure confidence ensures success in the business world. Squires mentioned that the gap between men and women in the workplace has closed considerably—but not fast enough. Squires encourages women to step up and be confident in their work because we work just as hard as our male colleagues and can handle the same challenges they can. Further, Squires tells women to “stop questioning our abilities” because we are all capable of the work if we would just have the confidence to know that we are.

Tip #3: Use Effective Communication Skills and Be Self-Aware. In order for women to succeed in the workplace, Suzanne Morrison, Executive Vice President at Wells Fargo, suggests that effective communication skills and self-awareness are absolutely necessary. Morrison explained that we communicate in many different ways. For example, she explained that our body language and even the way we sit play into the idea of needed confidence that Danielle Squires noted. Morrison said that “in general, women take up less space” in a room by the way we sit and stand in comparison to men, which projects a message of insecurity or uncertainty. In order to combat this perception, Morrison suggests that women practice self-awareness by paying close attention to themselves and the people around them. She explains that “listening is a huge part of communication because you take the information communicated to you and communicate back, which enables the building of relationships and problem solving.” In many organizations, the majority of conflict usually stems from a communication breakdown. Morrison encourages all women to “think about whom you’re communicating with and, in turn, how you like to be communicated with” because leaders and employees of all levels value awareness and communication. 

Tip #4: Show Empathy and Honesty. As women, we are often empathetic and can understand what someone else is experiencing. It can be harder for men to show empathy in the workplace. This recommendation to show empathy and honesty at work comes from Linda Redding, Wells Fargo’s National Sales Manager. Redding strongly believes that success in the workplace stems from having the ability to understand where others are coming from, including their position and set goals. She notes that having empathy is one of the “greatest leadership qualities” and encouraged all of the women in the room to “develop the skill of putting yourself in someone else’s place.” Redding also noted that honesty creates value for women in the workplace, not just being honest about all matters concerning your work, but also “being honest with yourself about what you want to do and why you’re doing it.” Redding advised the women attending the forum to “show up every day as your authentic self because being honest with yourself about the traits you bring to the table and not letting other people project traits on to you will make you extremely successful no matter where you work.” 

Tip #5: Strive to be Inspirational and Optimistic. Lastly, always strive to be inspirational and optimistic. Indhira Arrington, the Head of Wholesale Diversity Strategic Recruiting and Programs at Wells Fargo, believes that all women should “reflect the change we wish to see in the world and possess the qualities that allow us to show up and be our best selves every day.” Perhaps the best and most inspiring advice I received at the forum was to “strive to be the person who opens the door and helps the people behind you.” Be optimistic about all situations, attempt to find the silver lining, and always motivate and inspire those around you. After all, being successful in the workplace is about being of service to others and making yourself and someone else better than they thought they could be.

These tips can aid any woman interested in moving up the chain of command at any organization. When working in the business world, always be accountable, be confident in yourself, use effective communication skills and be self-aware, show empathy and honesty, and always strive to be inspirational and optimistic in order to strengthen your chances of success. Women have the power to significantly influence the world of business; we shouldn’t be discouraged or doubt our abilities. When we are younger, we all believe that we will be the President of the United States, but somehow we slowly lose that faith along the way. Why should we? As women, we should raise our hands, have our voices heard, and be confident in our ideas because I believe that women can truly rule the world.

November 2, 2015 at 3:27 pm 17 comments

Communicating Across Borders

By Kristen Skill

My father, CEO of an American technology company, is hosting a large banquet dinner in Beijing, China, to solidify the partnership of his company with a Chinese semiconductor distribution company. The Chinese company’s CEO, several of his representatives, their families, and my family are present for this important dinner.

After confirming the partnership, the CEOs shake hands and make a toast to celebrate. Directly after the confirmation, the Chinese CEO takes a sip of his soup, slurps and belches loudly and prominently, and sits back to smile at my father. My brother and I, wide-eyed in disbelief, sharply turn our heads to look at my father, who, much to our surprise, is smiling back contentedly at the Chinese CEO.

Reading this example of my father, an American, and the Chinese CEO at a corporate dinner, as an American you may be taken aback by the loud slurping and proud belching of the Chinese CEO, especially in a formal business setting. However, the Chinese CEO was simply showing his utmost respect and appreciation for his gracious host. These actions in China are considered a polite display of satisfaction. Because my father frequently does business in China and is accustomed to Chinese culture, he understood this gesture. Without studying this culture, a business person’s misunderstanding could create a barrier in the business relationship.

What is intercultural communication?

cul·turenoun \ˈkəl-chər\

The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes culture as “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time.” Culture shapes who people are, what people they connect with, how they act in social settings, and even appropriate business relations. Language is not the only barrier to communication in business settings; limited understanding of other cultures can block effective business communication.

The first clear issue that we observe in intercultural business communication is the use of different languages. Other than learning a different language, translation is really the only option you have to communicate when different languages are involved. Translation may seem like a simple solution; however, many subtle but substantial issues arise with translation. Translation can largely distort different tone connotations, cultural meanings, and even word definitions, which runs the risk of creating conflict in business settings.

For example, Coors created a marketing campaign around the slogan “Turn It Loose,” hoping to promote a relaxed, party vibe that would be associated with drinking their beer. When the slogan was translated into Spanish, it delivered a completely different connotation: “you will suffer from diarrhea.”

okBody language also differs from culture to culture, so body language is something you should always be aware of as you could be harmlessly gesturing what you think is a common “OK” signal, but indicate something completely different and even offensive in another culture or language.

Cultural barriers to communication are a lot deeper than simply language barriers. Certain practices generally accepted in some cultures may be considered rude in others. For example, in Arab countries, the leaders are sheikhs and members of royal families. Similarly, in India family members hold key positions in work and certain trades are often run by family members. Hiring family members, nepotism to us, is the norm in these countries and others; however, in America, we think of nepotism as a somewhat unfair advantage. Responses to these differences between cultures can lead to ineffective communication and ruin relationships if you’re not aware of cultural differences.

Taking the time to understand different cultures will help you avoid uncomfortable situations brought up as a result of cultural misunderstandings and facilitate intercultural communication. Take this South African commercial, for example, which relates to the Black Economic Empowerment movement in South Africa providing more jobs for black South Africans and leading to the emergence of a “new middle class” including many more black South Africans than previous years in the country’s economy. Now, after watching the commercial, I’m sure many Americans, at least, because of the history and socially acceptable practices of our country, might be taken aback by the blatant comparison of race and economic class. However, this type of social comparison is a theme in many modern advertisements in South Africa. A commercial like this would not be acceptable in the United States. Become aware of what is culturally acceptable and not in order to be an effective global businessperson.

Why must I understand different cultures when I work in my home country?

With the increasingly large number of fast-growing emerging markets, understanding cultural differences is key to global business success. Using purchasing power parities, a technique used to determine relative value of different countries, top accounting firm PwC forecasted the biggest economies in the world in 2050. Their predictions change the world economy as we’ve known it for decades, forecasting major growth of many top emerging countries such as Indonesia and Mexico to surpass developed nations such as Germany and the UK. According to PwC, the country with the largest economy in 2050 will be China, followed closely by India. The US comes falls in rank from current number one to number three in 2050. The chart below depicts the change in ranking in GDP for the world’s largest economies.growth

How do I engage in effective intercultural communication?

Learning the cultural practices of each region of business would be ideal, but one day you may be at a business dinner to close a client deal in Beijing, China, the next day off to Mumbai, India to tour a factory, and the next on a call with a bank in Switzerland. The need for intercultural communication in global firms is increasing rapidly, so understanding the culture of every region in which business is conducted is simply impossible. However, thankfully, being an expert in every area of the world is not necessary. You must simply have the mindset of a global businessperson and be aware and cautious regarding cultural differences

Here are ways to gain exposure and develop a global mindset:

Do Your Research – As a global businessperson, you should be aware of events occurring around the world and know a brief history of counties in which you are engaging in business with. This research and awareness will give you at least a background of what issues may be sensitive in discussion and how business may have been done either successfully or unsuccessfully in the past.

Study Abroad – Most universities offer a variety of study abroad options. If you are reading this blog as a fellow Kenan-Flagler student, you have the option to spend a full semester in a foreign country or even participate in one of the Global Immersion Electives, which provide a global business perspective through events such as company visits.

Immerse Yourself in the Culture Locally – If studying abroad is not an option for you, you have other options for intercultural exposure. For example, you can venture out to foreign restaurants to experience the food and possibly engage in conversations regarding the country and culture the food originated from. You may also seek out friends of different backgrounds or take foreign language classes. Last but not least, you may have heard the Dr. Seuss quote that “reading can take you places you’ve never been before.” If you do not have the option to travel, reading about other cultures, customs, traditions, people, and places around the world will enhance your global mindset.

Be extra cautious and aware of your actions and language to be an effective intercultural communicator, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to learn more about acceptable cultural and business practices. Being aware, open to new cultures, receptive to surroundings, and respectful is the best start to becoming a global citizen and engaging in effective intercultural communication.

November 17, 2014 at 9:10 am 6 comments

Men: Give Women a Lift

man helping womanBy Taylor Kenan

While women for decades have been a part of the workplace, gender inequality persists. Not only do women earn less money on average, but many also work in an environment that makes them feel less valued than men. However, Caroline Fairchild notes that “companies with women on boards and in executive leadership positions have been found to outperform.” Therefore, she states that men must step out of their own experiences and try to learn more about women.

Perception of women. Many mothers now work two jobs at once: one at the office and one at home. Women’s entrance into the workforce was supposed to change the family dynamic at home, but in many cases it has not. Many mothers still have the majority of the responsibility for raising the children, cleaning the house, and cooking the dinners.

Also, a woman’s responsibilities at home can affect others’ perceptions of her at the workplace. A woman with children is less likely to be hired because an employer perceives her second job as a mother as an interference with her actual job. Ben Waber notes that in our society, “men get bonus points for being fathers and women get penalized for being mothers.” In contrast to a woman with children, a man with children is more likely to be hired because he is seen as more responsible.

This view of parents is an example of one of many double standards held for women. Once a woman has a job, she faces even more double standards. For example, men who voice their opinions and are assertive and bold with their communications are more respected. However, coworkers often do not like a woman with these same traits because she is seen as “too masculine.” She then feels like she cannot be bold and competitive.

Gender behavior differences. This perception of women has an effect on their behavior at work. Caroline Turner notes that research shows that women talk less than men in business meetings. Many women feel less confident than men in the workplace because of the way they are treated. This lack of confidence leads to women being more submissive and less likely to speak up.

Turner further states in her article that men treat work as a competitive game and work the same way that they played as children. Girls, on the other hand, were taught to share and wait their turn as children, so they work that way as well. Therefore, women tend to wait their turn to speak at the office, which may never come. This politeness causes others to see them as less powerful. But were boys not taught to share and wait their turn as children?

The way that men behave indicates that many were not. It indicates that many men have been raised to go after what they want and to be confident and not stop for anyone else while women have been raised to give others a turn and wait and make sure they are positive about a decision before taking action.

Men for women. Of course, other men have been raised to consider others more–to be polite and share. Some men in the workplace understand that women deserve to be heard just as much as men are, and that they might face more obstacles and need more support.

The change needs to come from these men. And change does not have to be drastic. Bryan Pelley states that he simply pays more attention to how women are treated during meetings, urges them to be more confident in themselves, and most importantly tries to always treat everyone as a unique professional with different strengths and weaknesses.

Women have come a long way in the workplace and will continue to fight for their equality. However, sometimes others perceive their confident and assertive manners as pushy and unattractive. We need more men who understand that women can and will provide good ideas to the discussion once they are more valued and supported. The help of these men will speed the process of making the workforce more gender equal.

November 14, 2014 at 8:54 am 1 comment

Should I Bow or Should I Shake?

Cultural Communication in Business

By Nabil Lachgar

During my time in Japan this past summer, I met a man in a restaurant who spoke some English and after an interesting conversation, he got up to leave. I tried to shake his hand as he bowed, my hand catching him in the face. In an instant of confusion, I bowed as he tried to shake. In a comedic display we had somehow managed to punch each other in the face, while trying to be polite. We laughed it off, but this experience was a perfect example of dissonance within cultural communication.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

To what extent does culture determine business communication? Every one of us has been in a situation where cultural biases have led to an uncomfortable exchange between two or more people. These cultural biases can shape who we are but can also prove to be a severe obstacle to communication. As businesspeople, we must understand the role of culture in a global business setting, so let’s explore how to avoid obstacles.

High vs. Low Context Cultures

Imagine yourself as a business executive involved in international negotiations. Let’s take two culturally dissident countries: Japan and the United States. These two countries are opposite in many ways as it relates to communication. If you’re tired of pages and pages of legal documents with meticulous wording and four degrees of definition, you might like negotiating in Japan, where people value personal bonds and informal agreements far more than formal contracts.

Experts consider Japan to be a high-context culture that relies on nonverbal cues and context to communicate a message. Conversely, the prevalent culture in the United States values explicit and specific messages. When involved in international business associations, business leaders in the United States often make the fatal flaw of devaluing personal relationships when communicating with business individuals from high-context countries like Japan.

Examples of Cultural Communications Blunders from Culturosity:

  • When President George W. Bush traveled to Japan with American businessmen, he made explicit and direct demands on Japanese leaders, thus violating Japanese etiquette. The Japanese (as a high-context culture) saw this behavior as rude and ignorant. This act damaged negotiations and confirmed to the Japanese that Americans are barbarians.
  • When Pepsi advertised its brand in Taiwan with the ad, “Come Alive With Pepsi,” they had no idea that it would be translated in Chinese as, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.”

Hierarchies

When we communicate with coworkers in the business world, we rely heavily on hierarchies within our company or organization. Different organizational structures within a company affect horizontal and vertical communications in a way that in turn affects the efficiency of the company. Culture often defines these organizational structures and, therefore, we observe a strong relationship between culture and communication. To analyze this relationship, we look to the sphere of communications on an international business level. This relationship between communication and culture appears to employ a circular association. National culture impacts company structure, which in turn affects communication within the company. The style of communication has a direct influence on the culture of the company, which ties into employee satisfaction. Would you rather work for a company with a relaxed atmosphere or a stricter mentality?

If you have ever looked at similar firms in different countries, significant dichotomies exist within communication paradigms. National culture impacts the individual culture of a firm with style of communication being the intermediary variable. For example, a respectful culture might have a very hierarchical organizational structure within firms and place importance on respectful communication between different levels of the hierarchy.

Collectivism vs. Individualism

We can understand hierarchies better by looking at collectivism vs. individualism. The United States promotes a more individualistic culture while other cultures such as Japan are collectivistic. For example, as a young professional trying to work your way up the ranks, you are much more focused in advancing your own agenda above that of a whole company or group of people. In the United States, many firms are moving towards a more progressive organizational setting, separating the gaps between management and employees and, therefore, facilitating communication. Managers often do so at the expense of having a corner office but efficiency through approachability can be more important than separating oneself distantly.

Unfortunately, many fail to notice that culture is a powerful ingredient in business communications and poor intercultural awareness can bear consequences – some serious, others comical. In global business, gaining intercultural awareness is a necessary investment so you can avoid blunders that could ruin negotiations and hurt relationships with partner firms. And finally, if you ever find yourself greeting a man in Japan, make sure you ask yourself:  “Should I bow or should I shake?”

November 10, 2014 at 7:33 am 3 comments

How Your Wanderlust Can Land You Your Next Job

By Courtney Clapper

Are you passionate about travelling the globe? More and more students are studying abroad every year but are consistently unsure of how to use this experience to their advantage during interviews and job applications. I have been lucky enough to study abroad several times during my undergraduate career and feel that this experience consistently sets me apart from other candidates during interviews. It’s all about how you market it.temple

Students should highlight this experience on their resumes under the education section and always try to discuss the experience during interviews or professional networking sessions. If a recruiter or professional has been to that area of the world, the travel story serves as a common conversational point that strengthens your relationship. If not, recruiters may take interest in discussing travel in general or enjoy hearing about your experience in that country. Either way, it can’t hurt.

Studying abroad sets students apart because it shows that they can respect cultural distinctions, adapt to and thrive in new environments, embrace challenges, and think critically to solve problems. Next are some additional skills that students gain abroad that they should highlight in any professional interview.

Cross-Cultural Communication. Studying abroad teaches you how to communicate with people who speak many different languages and grew up in diverse environments. Most students in the United States do not get exposed to as many different cultures and types of people as students who leave the country. Studying abroad enables you to truly immerse yourself in a different culture and learn about all of the components that make it unique.

Additionally, you can gain much by discussing personal study abroad experiences with students who studied in different programs. My study abroad experience in Hong Kong was quite different than the experience of my friend who studied in Morocco, but communicating these experiences to each other broadened our perspectives and taught us values that are unique to different areas of the world.

Self Reliance. Students who live in another country must become completely confident in their ability to overcome obstacles. You face many unique challenges while living in a different country, particularly when language is a barrier and you must be responsible for your own decisions. I frequently got lost while traveling to different areas of Asia and never had texting or calling capabilities on my phone. I was completely responsible for getting myself out of those situations and figuring out where I needed to go. This experience taught me to be more observant and responsible for my personal safety.

Furthermore, you can no longer rely on your parents to solve problems for you when you are abroad. Your study abroad experience shows recruiters that you are a reliable adult who can take responsibility for your actions. This additional accountability while abroad often increases other positive characteristics, such as maturity and independence.

Awareness of Globalization. Being aware of other cultures and familiar with other country’s values is more relevant than ever as globalization intensifies and knowledge of other nations becomes increasingly expected in the workplace.

Most modern corporations have a global mindset and are more likely to hire someone who is passionate about other cultures.

Studying abroad can particularly enhance the resume of students preparing for careers in business, government, journalism, and international relations. When I apply for internships with a global emphasis, my passion for other cultures is evident by my participation in these travel opportunities. Many global employers are looking for bilingual candidates, so if you learned another language while abroad, you are on an even faster track to success.

I have found that recruiters are particularly intrigued by study abroad destinations that are less traditional, such as locations in Asia. I am a business major who has traveled to China and India, two incredibly powerful countries in the business world. Recruiters are always impressed that I aligned the places I have studied with my future career goals. Research your major and find out what locations are relevant for that career around the world and then go study there. What better way to relate to professionals in your desired field?

Studying abroad taught me a lot about Asian culture, but it also showed me how to communicate with diverse groups of people, lead teams of many distinct individuals, think critically, respect cultural distinctions, and become a confident and independent adult. All of these skills are relevant in pretty much every job, no matter the field.

If you market the communication skills you learned, self-awareness and responsibility you gained, and critical thinking skills that you enhanced while abroad to a potential employer, I guarantee that you will stand out more than students who didn’t get out of their comfort zone and experience the world.

November 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm 2 comments

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