Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Adding International Flavor to Your Resume: International Work and Study Expand Horizons, Opportunities

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Adding International Flavor to Your Resume: International Work and Study Expand Horizons, Opportunities

Article excerpt

Back in the 1980s, Anthony Pinder was trading futures for a living in Chicago. When the Chernobyl nuclear accident devastated the stock market, he decided the timing was right to do something he had thought about for years. He joined the Peace Corps. Pinder's 2 ½ years in Ecuador changed his perspective about the world. It also gave his resume a new sheen.

"My main job in Ecuador was as an economist with the coffee growers and fishermen. We helped them market their products to neighboring countries," he recalls. He also helped with the farmers' and fishermen's internal accounting systems, which were primitive.

Pinder later became a national recruiter for the Peace Corps. Today he is associate dean of Global Studies and director for the International Center for Economic Freedom at Dillard University in New Orleans. He strongly believes that international study and work provides the type of knowledge and skills that open career doors.

"The more a student or faculty member can become a world citizen, the better," he says.

Charles Baquet served for 35 years in the Foreign Service and is a former U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti in northeastern Africa. He says foreign study or work listed on a resume indicates several attributes.

"If you have on your resume that you know a language and haven't been off campus, that's not that impressive. But when you see someone who has studied or worked in Martinique, you see a person who has learned another language and is comfortable with another culture," says Baquet, who serves as director of the Center for Intercultural and International Programs at Xavier University of Louisiana. "Employers think, here's a person who is adventuresome, intelligent and probably creative. If they've been in a developing country, they're not afraid of difficult situations."

Global citizenship makes an applicant stand out -- they have gone the extra mile to gain experience, says Dr. Robert Miles, director of the Study Abroad program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "International experience, if not required, is highly desired at any global company. Those without it may find themselves passed over."

International experience is increasingly important for faculty promotion at smaller colleges and is becoming routine at large universities, says Miles, a former chairman of the department of sociology and former associate dean of social sciences at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES

International experience has another perk for both students and faculty -- networking. Faculty and students who have spent time in other countries build extensive international networks.

The number of American students studying abroad increased 61 percent from 1995 to 2000, according to the Institute of International Education. Foreign study increased 11 percent from 1998-1999 to 1999-2000. There are approximately 144,000 American students studying abroad.

Interest in studying abroad has traditionally been high at UNC-Chapel Hill, which currently ranks No. 8 in the nation among large universities sending students abroad. Overseas study for this summer and fall is up 5 percent over last year, Miles says. But he says data suggests African American students are still underrepresented. Miles feels the university could do a better job in disseminating information to minority students and parents.

Baquet sees an increase in students studying abroad at historically Black Xavier University, "but the numbers are still low," he says.

He says one reason is that many minority students are the first in their families to attend college. …

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