Panel Focuses on Global Careers
Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, November 14, 2013 00:11
On Wednesday evening, the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), the Office of International Programs (OIP), and the Career Center hosted a panel addressing the pursuit of international careers.
“An international career is a series of related jobs that take place outside the United States or within the United States, with a substantial international focus,” said Adrienne Nussbaum, director of OISS. “The goal of this program is to help students understand the breadth and depth of what an international career can be, to think about the skills and competencies necessary for pursuing an international career, and to highlight the resources on campus available to students.”
The panel featured five Boston College alumni, all with careers within the international arena or with an international focus: Karen Potookian, an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice with previous work at the U.S. Department of Defense and A&S ’94; Bruno Donat, Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes with previous work at the United Nations and World Bank and A&S ’95; Kelly Hunsicker, Buyer for The TJX Companies and CSOM ’08; Caitlin Ferrarini, International Programs Manager at United Planet with previous work at Education First and LGSOE ’09; and Andrew Shirman, Founder of Education In Sight and A&S ’10.
The panel emphasized the variety of international careers available to students—careers in government, business, communications, education, and healthcare, among others.
The alumni explained the steps necessary to pursue a career abroad. Beyond exhausting the resources available on campus, the panelists encouraged pursuing entry-level internships in the field of interest, studying abroad in the desired location, and maintaining contacts abroad.
“Networking has been the most important aspect in my pursuit of an international career,” Shirman said. “Once you do go international—whether that is for an internship, study abroad program, or a job—developing a strong base of friends in different places around the world is key, as it will help you further your opportunities abroad.” Shirman worked for non-profit organization Teach for China before founding his own non-profit, Education In Sight, which seeks to bring eyeglasses to rural areas in the U.S. and China.
The panel also explained the importance of developing and maintaining relationships with students and faculty. “Don’t network only with potential employers, network with your peers, your classmates, your friends—developing these friendships now will prove to be immensely important later in life when you are all in the work force,” Donat said.
Within the spectrum of international careers, the panel highlighted the importance of cultivating certain skill sets including knowing multiple languages, being comfortable with public speaking, having successful interpersonal communication, and flexibility. “Listen twice more that you do speak,” Dinot said. “Oftentimes, in the international world, you have no choice but to listen.”
Additionally, the panel emphasized the importance of cultural sensitivity and appreciation while abroad. Especially when working internationally, it is important to be able to develop business and personal relationships, despite cultural difference.
“Maintaining a cultural open-mindedness, which you gain from experiences abroad or being friends with international students, can help you when pursuing an international career,” Ferrarini said. “You really do need to make personal connections with people–that may be the most important aspect of my job. It’s not just negotiating and buying, I have to build strong relationships with people, internally within the company, and externally with our sellers.”
This panel was a part of the larger program of International Education Week at BC, which seeks to highlight the importance of increasing awareness of the various cultures, peoples, and languages by addressing international education and exchange.