Students Do Not Connect Study Abroad Experience to Employability & Employers Expect Higher Education Institutions to Help Make the Connection

Global Career Compass:

Academic institutions with articulated internationalization policies need to do more to bridge the gap between student needs and employer expectations in the design and structure of their study abroad programs.

Originally posted on Global Career Compass:

Two  recent surveys help explain the quandry employers have found themselves in for several years when it comes to the mismatch between their need for talent and the recent graduates they interview, who may have international experience on their resumes, but who cannot make a solid connection between being abroad and the competencies which the employer values in a new hire.  This is precisely what I’ve been saying and writing about in recent years.  And it is a dis-connect which impacts not only the U.S. workforce, but resonates around the world for employers based both in the North and South.  On the other hand, it appears that not all employers – or at least their HR managers- place the same weight on whether or not study abroad is valued as an experience to develop necessary intercultural skills [a finding that contradicts the fact that overwhelming majorities of employers state this…

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Campus Advising Practices Impact How Students Make Sense of Studying Abroad


With students returning to campus this month, I thought I’d re-publish this post; I hope it might be useful for study abroad advisors and career service staff as they prepare to send off new groups of students to study abroad:

AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study) has published my new monograph titled, Campus Best Practices Supporting Study Abroad & Student Career Development.  You can download it at

I spent six months in 2013 researching, contacting and reviewing dozens of U.S. campus advising practices for students before, during and upon their return home from studying abroad. The outcome is not a completely satisfying portrait of how campuses – of all sizes, public and private, in every region – have organized their study abroad and career service offices to offer students an integrated set of advising options at the time they decide to go abroad through their time in-country and then upon their return to campus.

Only a handful of campuses provide resources and advise students in each of these three phases of their international education experience.  Why?  Mostly, it has to do with time and money — and yet the higher ed community bemoans the small numbers of students who study abroad (and is now gearing up to double this number in a national advocacy effort -see the IIE Generation Study Abroad at…

Perhaps more students would consider going abroad if they were advised to view their time abroad as a significant moment in their career development.  Yes, it is often tied to specific curricular offerings, and sometimes, it is just a chance to get out of the country for the first time, but it needs to be viewed as a time when students have a chance to develop skills which have the potential to be of great advantage in their job searches and their overall career advancement in future years.

Merely focusing on administrative remedies to increase numbers ignores the deeper problem for campuses — they do not provide adequate student services to assist students make meaning of their international education experiences.




Life Lessons From Studying Abroad…

The Washington Post magazine recently published,, a wonderful reflective and insightful essay by a Georgetown University student.  It’s about her experience in Seville, Spain and I think it would make a terrific handout for a workshop either before or upon return for any student discussion group.

Here’s an example of the students’ insight:

“There’s a poem by Gail Mazur called “Why You Travel” that encapsulates why you should study abroad if you have the opportunity. The photographs of you traveling, wherever you are in the world, show you “having the time of your life, blistered and smiling. The acid of your fear could eat the world.”

That’s exactly it. To confront that fear. To face the newness and difference of everything and everyone. To feel yourself changing while still holding on to who you are.”

Learning how to cope with difference and the challenges of staying in touch with “who you are” are exactly what a student will confront while abroad in any country. It’s what I learned in India and what students I’ve traveled with have had to deal with.  And it is what a faculty member or program director must help a student muddle through during their time in-country…


Why Study Abroad?

It’s not often that the general public gets an opportunity to read a story and hear the voice of an intelligent and articulate student about the meaning of their study abroad experience –but here is an essay that appeared in the Washington Post magazine:

The writer writes about the meaning of her experience on many levels and she acknowledges that although she was in Spain – and not the developing world – this did not detract from the lessons she learned and the experiences which deeply affected her…

It might be worth sharing this essay on campus study abroad websites so other students can listen to how a self-described introverted student grew through her immersion in a highly outgoing and social cultural environment.


Building Employment Opportunities The Old Fashioned Way

Global Career Compass:

Whose responsibility is it to bridge the skills gap? Developing an active partnership on campus can open a window to innovation & action.

Originally posted on Global Career Compass:

The UK Globe & Mail published this interesting piece written by a social entrepreneur whose mantra is, “bridge your own skills gap.”

There are many ways in which students and recent grads can acquire the skills and tools to be more relevant in today’s workforce:  On campuses across the country [i.e. in the UK], there are over 10,000 student groups and extra-curricular activities – but only about a third of students get involved outside the classroom. My first experience in sales, marketing, HR and leadership came from on campus activities.  Off campus, there is no shortage of opportunities available to students to gain practical, hands-on skills and exposure through internships and work-study programs.

Our generation has all of the ingredients we need to be successful, but above all else, the right attitude to see beyond a linear career path and the courage to take our careers into our…

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Graduate Business Schools & Employability of International Students

Global Career Compass:

Has the management of international student enrollment gotten any easier in terms of the global economy? Only accepting students who are a .”good fit” so placement numbers look good appears terribly self-serving (is manipulative too strong a word?)

Originally posted on Global Career Compass:  There seems to be good news and bad news:  we know there is a rise in enrollment of international students – especially from from India and China – at all levels of of U.S. higher education.  But what to do about the soft job market?  What is the career office to do to develop employment options to match the rise in demand?

At Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, one-quarter of the Nashville, Tenn., school’s 2011 M.B.A. class was international, with a number of students from China, India and South Korea.  “If we have too high a [percentage] of international students and then we can’t place them, shame on us,” says Tami Fassinger, chief recruiting officer at the school. 

I appreciate the candor in this statement.  It’s not merely a global search for new sources of revenue, is it?  There does need to be an overall institutional…

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How global workforce development leverages opportunities for U.S.grads & Indian start-ups

Global Career Compass:

Id like to learn where else in the world there is an active linkage between diaspora graduates and home-country employment opportunities. Comments?

Originally posted on Global Career Compass:

Great to welcome in 2012 with an article in the Washington Post which speaks very directly to the inter-connections of  global workforce development with U.S. higher education!  See this piece at  Here we see the new draw of high-tech start-ups in India for U.S. grads willing to risk re-location coupled with the way in which U.S.-educated Indian professionals can utilize their ties to their alumni institution ( in this case the University of Pennsylvania) to secure the talent they need to grow their business.  I see this as a growing phenomenon in the case of both India and China in coming decades.  How telling to see Indian companies recruiting U.S. talent!  The old fear of brain-drain is gone.  The borderless economy opens doors in all directions.

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The Purposeful Connection of an Internship to Student Career Development

Global Career Compass:

As students begin returning to campus this month, I’m re-blogging some early posts…

Originally posted on Global Career Compass:

These are my notes from my webinar presentation conducted by the Sub-Committee on Work, Internships and Volunteering Abroad of NAFSA, Nov. 15, 2011“Integrating the Internship Experience Into Long-Term Career Development”


  • Given the impact of globalization in the workplace, and in light of the new skills in demand by businesses, nonprofits and government, it’s to a student’s advantage to consider the career implications of what may be a once-in-a –lifetime educational experience.  Today’s global marketplace demands increased adaptability, cross-cultural sensitivity, political awareness and intellectual flexibility.
  • Globalization’s impact on workers and the workplace has leaped across national borders and transcends cultures.
  • Businesses are taking a more active interest than ever before in the outcomes of education abroad experiences as they struggle to build a sophisticated and informed workforce
  • Employers, especially those doing business internationally, are interested in whether or not a job applicant demonstrates…

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Lifetime Employment “vs.” Lifetime Employability

I’ve been a longtime user of LinkedIn and consulted on its effective use as a tool in the job search process.  The site is universally – across national borders – seen as an indispensable tool for any professional (whether employed or job seeking).  And so this article reporting an interview with the site’s founder, Reid Hoffman, was intriguing:

Hoffman has a way with metaphors and I liked his statement that [private sector] employers, to remain in tune with the rapidity of change in the marketplace, will need to hire increasingly more “adaptive” employees.  However, he points out that employees also are changing how they view their loyalty and commitment to their current employer.  Thus, they are always on the lookout for their next job never feeling secure in their current assignment.  And so the new contract between the two parties is more of an open “alliance.” One which acknowledges the insecurity of the other –the best the employer can hope for is to hold on to good people by helping them grow their skill sets to keep them both committed to the present while enabling them to feel [somewhat] secure about their [inevitable] next job search.

Hoffman says, “For individuals, it’s the trading lifetime employment for lifetime employability.  The company should invest in you to keep you employable, by always offering more training and expanding responsibility, even if you never leave…” Employees, in exchange, “will work to keep the company adapting and valuable and growing over the long term.”

So there it is.  The new devils’ bargain for these times.  I believe the challenge for educators is to equip their students with both an understanding of this crazy alliance (and in one form or another, I think it holds true for all sectors and not only the private one) and provide them with adaptive skills and competencies so they can navigate the waves of the global workforce without sinking.

A Look Into “Future” of Higher Education [in U.S.]

In case you’re interested, I’ve been writing book review for the NAFSA magazine, International Educator, for the past twenty years. But I’ve not written about a good book on my blog – so here is the first I’m touting as a good read: College [UN]Bound by Jeffrey Selingo, editor-at-large for the Chronicle of Higher Education [a good blog to follow]. He writes very clearly and succinctly and without jargon. Further, I pretty much agree with all that he says and the way that he dissects the issues facing U.S. colleges and universities (so much for objectivity).

In his intro, he makes a statement which no politician or senior campus administrator would acknowledge as true: that we do not, on many levels, have the “best” system of higher ed in the world.  As he says, if this were, in fact, true, how come we now rank 12th in the percentage of 25-34 year olds who have post secondary credentials among the 17 nations that comprise the OECD (as of 1995, we were #1).

In his chapter on “The Disruption,” he states that the decline began in 2008 at the time we entered our great recession. I recall then that there was commentary as to whether or not this huge event was “transformative” for our society or just another of the old-fashioned cyclical financial crises we go through in our capitalistic system…Clearly, on many scorecards, the recession has not been anything approaching a “normal” historical event.

And so we come to the issues he discusses and which I’ve tried to raise in my blog about increasing inequality of access to higher ed, to experiences such as studying abroad and to the expected  positive impact of a college degree in terms of “employability”, among several others.  On this last all important outcome, he says, “It is hard to exaggerate how big a role the value gap will play in the future of higher education. For decades, colleges have traded on the value of their degree in the employment markets and social circles to push up prices [i.e. tuition]. That financial strategy has come to a screeching halt (p. 72).”

He not only is a critic of higher education but has taken the time to visit dozens of colleges in order to talk with staff and students and see what goes on  – in real time – for students.  I like the innovative stories he shares about best practices in and out of the classroom at the end of the book.

Get this book and discuss it. Think about it. Tell a faculty colleague or administrator you know about it and maybe go over it in a book club or over drinks (better). And if you know a parent whose kid is in their Junior year of high school, tell them to read it as it might help them decide how to make good choices for their college bound son or daughter.




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