Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Think Globally


Whether you're just starting out in college, or finishing up and heading off to the job market, you should know that the world is shrinking. What happens in Greek finances and politics, the Chinese manufacturing sector, the streets in Egypt all affect the United States. Within the U.S., more and more residents and citizens do not speak English as a first language.

I'm not suggesting that you plan a career around working abroad. Rather, you should take steps to prepare yourself to understand cultures with ideas and beliefs that diverge widely from the ones you grew up with and feel comfortable around.

Learn a language. Even if you don't become fluent, you'll have a sense of the difficulties learning a new language, the subtle shifts in how ideas are communicated ("I have hunger" rather than "I am hungry"--what does that distinction imply about how hunger is experienced), and a little of the history that shaped the culture(s) in which the language is spoken. 

If you can, study abroad. Or get involved with cultural events and organizations in your local area. Travel to and spend time in communities that are new to you.

No, this is not sure-fire advice on "how to get a job," although it does help to be able to pitch to a prospective employer that you understand and embrace a multicultural perspective. Rather, broad experience may open unforeseen and interesting doors where you least expect them.

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