Int’l Business Leaders
It’s important to know that your career in international business does not begin in a foreign country. The reality is that many resources and opportunities exist right at home.
There are a set of skills that international businesses seek out, regardless of how much travel experience you may have. First of all, companies seek out someone who is an expert and passionate about their field of knowledge. Within this expertise, you should be able to display the three most important basic skills: cognitive skills, social skills, and positive personal traits. Within cognitive skills, you must be able to demonstrate problem solving ability and decision making. Social skills are the ability to work within a diverse team of backgrounds and skill sets. Positive personal traits include being flexible and adaptable to rapidly change circumstances, and a mind open to innovation.
The second skill set that international companies covet is cross cultural skills. This skill set includes proficiency in another language, knowledge of geography, culture, and history, and a proven track record of working with cultures outside your own. Within the United States, it’s not difficult to acquire cross-cultural experience. Your domestic work experience can and will eventually give you the skill sets needed for international work. Try to find jobs that have similar goals and methods as international companies. You’ll find local concerns are often the same as international concerns, such as health, housing, and economic development.
For example, you may want to eventually find work in Japan. You could study Japanese at your college, volunteer at a local cultural center, or join a Japanese cultural appreciation club. Or if you wish to work in a developing country, you can volunteer for domestic relief organizations that distribute food or medicine. The skills you learn here will directly apply to work abroad.
Another entry-level international job is teaching English abroad. There are literally thousands of opportunities for this working abroad as a teacher. This job can definitely impart crucial experience needed for any international job.
Once you have done your research, and gained some basic skill sets, try to find an environment where you’re more likely to land international work. For example, if you are interested in working in Latin America, you’re probably better off in Houston, Miami, or Los Angeles. Likewise, if it’s Asia you have an interest in, look for work in Seattle, Portland, or San Francisco. Washington, DC is also a strong city to find contacts in the international business sector.