Dive Into Selected NAFSA Blogs & Presentations on Career Integration, Employability & Best Practice Campus Advising

I wanted to make it easy to tap into some of my recent work, so here’s a link to several short blogs and other pieces of work I’ve done for NAFSA: Association of International Educators:


I welcome your comments !

New Book: International Higher Education’s Scholar-Practitioners: Bridging Research and Practice

A book I want to read. But my thought is this: are scholars rewarded in tenure decisions for their “practice” and do practitioners really have time to engage in research? I think I know the answer to both questions…

International Higher Education Consulting


The idea of the professional who bridges both research and practice has been largely overlooked and at times even disregarded by the academic and administrative structures that govern activity in higher education today. In international higher education, the number of students who now engage in mobility and exchange has expanded globally, along with the administrative cadre that manages all facets of internationalization, and the quickly growing scholarly attention to understanding the phenomenon. In this process, two distinct professional categories have emerged: those who ‘study it’ and those who ‘do it’ – the scholars and the practitioners. Practitioners are seen as those who manage the daily logistical flow of students and personnel around the globe, while scholars are seen as those who conduct research, collect and analyze data, and publish findings to inform, improve, and justify the activity. Yet this dichotomy is overly…

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A Students’ Place in the World

In the cycle of life, it’s that time once again. Students are graduating from colleges and universities across the country and for many, the unanswered question is: Now what?

Shortly, NAFSA: Association of International Educators will conduct its annual international conference in Denver. And one of its major speakers is NY Times columnist, David Brooks. In thinking about graduation and what “place” lies ahead for millions of youths, I re-read his September 8, 2014 Times column, “Becoming a Real Person.”

Brooks references three different missions of the current university: commercial (preparing for work), cognitive (acquisition of information & knowledge), and moral purpose (building an integrated understanding of self).  Of course, a week later, the Times published several letters to the editor from campuses around the country. The gist of these responses was that students should not have to choose one path over another.

A good follow-up to the Brooks column is an essay in the March 9, 2015 Chronicle of Higher Education by Lisa M. Dolling, “To Help Students Succeed Professionally and Personally, Teach the Art of Being Human.”  Her essay discusses the “false dichotomies” which she sees behind the ongoing debate about the purpose of college – or perhaps the ROI – and she states:

“Either you believe the purpose of going to college is to be able to secure a (preferably high-paying) job, or you think there is something more intrinsically valuable to be gained from the years spent earning a degree.  My question is: When did these become mutually exclusive?”  Exactly.

And I’d circle back to what I usually focus on in this blog which centers on the value of international experience in the life of an undergraduate.  And yes, how such experioence can add value to and become essential to a students’ employability as they seek entry into the workforce.  The above value questions relate to this goal — as a co-curricular “activity,” study-service-or work abroad adds a dimension to a students’ life experience with unparalled potential for personal growth and development of critical skills and competencies. Such experience complements classroom learning and provides invaluable perspective to their studies.

Whether in the community around campus or in the wider world community, I’ve always believed that experiential learning provides a laboratory for students to test themselves, challenge their values, and learn how to become more adaptable and flexible colleagues and members of a community outside their comfort zone.

My advice to members of the Class of 2016?  Keep challenging yourself. Keep communicating with your network of friends and mentors.Take risks as you move through your first jobs – be that person who says yes when there is a new task to be done.  Travel if and when you can.  Be persistent in your job search. It’s hard work. The search process can be very humbling and even humiliating. Stay with it. Rely upon the hard skills you developed in the classroom and those softer skills you honed outside in the community. You need both to succeed.

It will take awhile to “find your place.”  Actually, that’s a given.


The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Study Abroad

NAFSA: Association of International Educators Blog

Study abroad is a transformative experience of learning and growth for students. Although less than 1% of the U.S. student community participates in study abroad, we know that when a college student elects to take advantage of such a priceless opportunity, the borders that exist between peoples, whether defined or abstract, stop obstructing interaction.

Students who challenge themselves to make a deeper connection with our rapidly changing world are more adaptable, accomplished contributors to it. Students who immerse themselves in other cultures draw the world nearer to themselves. And the world reciprocates.

Study abroad is not a vacation or a trip. It opens students’ world far beyond themselves, an educational journey with dividends that last a lifetime. NAFSA summarizes the wondrous benefits of study abroad with seven C’s:

1. Challenge

Study abroad compels students to challenge themselves to grow beyond their comfort zones. They must leave home and enter…

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How Study Abroad Supports Graduate Employability

Well, it’s almost a year later since I wrote this post – and graduation time is upon many seniors. So I thought, why not re-blog this essay? The point stands: there’s no question that for that relatively small group of students who have studied-worked-served or interned abroad, the experience offers great value to enhance a students’ employability. So my advice is the same: campus academic/study abroad & career advisers need to get the word out to seniors —use your international experience to deepen your job profile. Figure out the best way to articulaste why and how your time abroad strengthened BOTH your soft & hard skill sets.

Higher education maven, Jeffrey Selingo, just published a new book: There Is Life Aftr College – What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow (Morrow). Unfortunately, the index does not include any reference to “study abroad” or “international.” BIG mistake. InternatIonal experience is one of the most important ways to prepare a student for navigating the global workplace that awaits…

Global Career Compass

The full essay appears in the AIFS study abroad advisor newsletter, International Perspectives: http://www.aifsabroad.com/pdf/perspectives_2015.pdf

We’ve recently witnessed a spate of new books authored by policy wonks which aim to re-examine the mission of the university in the United States and whether we need to “unbundle” how we educate students. Their titles are provocative, like The End of College, and they consider rising tuition and debt which burden large numbers of students and their families. Although we’ve left the worst of the recession behind us –especially with a sharp rebound in the unemployment figures which always favor job seekers with college diplomas – there is a lot of attention being given to new thinking regarding the linkage of higher education to the global workforce and the so-called “return on investment” of a college education. What does this challenge to the traditional value –and return on investment -of a college degree have…

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Making the most of opportunities

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Fakunle in DC as she was preparing to attend an international research conference. I’m re-blogging her post because it makes an important statement for international professionals – especially those unaccustomed to the value placed on networking by Western professionals – about “how far” they may need to stretch to build new connections. Rememmber that Robert Frost poem about the road not taken?

Omolabake Fakunle

Might sound like a cliche, but I believe that good preparation precedes taking meaningful advantage of opportunities. And opportunities sometimes lurk at unexpected corners. My main point in this post is linked to recent experiences as a research student – an aspect of my life that I am always delighted to discuss – though that had not been the topic of most of my posts here on my personal blog.

Just over a month ago, I wrote an email to a mentor much admired from a distance until when I decided to at least contact this person. To my sheer delight and joy, I got a response followed by hugely beneficial advice on my research area and continuing exchange of correspondence. It was a first for me to communicate with an important figure in my field whom I had never met before – and what a priceless experience it’s turned…

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Elon University’s Purposeful Plan to Link Education Abroad & Student Career Development

I’m pleased to share this guest post by Kristen Aquilino, International Career Fellow in the Elon Student Professional Development Center.  

Elon is one of the many campuses I cite in my publication for AIFS: “Campus Best Practices Supporting Education Abroad & Student Career Development (2014):  http://www.aifsabroad.com/advisors/pdf/Tillman_AIFS_Campus_Best_Practices.pdf


Elon University’s Strategic Plan highlights eight main priorities, each with ambitious key objectives.  The first priority is “an unprecedented university commitment to diversity and global engagement.” This commitment calls for a holistic approach, and there are innovative efforts from across the university contributing to its growth and success. Elon truly engages from an “it takes a village” perspective. From offices such as International Admissions and ourKernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, to our National and International Fellowships Office and individual programs such as Periclean Scholars, there is no shortage of a team mentality when it comes to fulfilling this objective.

With the momentum of this university-wide charge, the Student Professional Development Center (SPDC) and the Global Education Center (GEC) have been working together to discover areas where we can harmonize efforts to better support our students in their career and professional development across study abroad and international student services. While we are just getting started with implementing collaborative projects, so far, we have focused on the following areas: website resources and databases, pre-departure and “unpacking” programing, vetting third party internship organizations, and general staff training and information sharing. As our website changes are currently underway, here are a couple of other collaborative highlights we have implemented over the past year…


We’ve taken a new approach to our re-entry and, in collaboration with NC State colleagues, are implementing a program called, “Understanding your Global Engagement Experience: Learning how to effectively communicate relevant experiences to employers.” This re-entry program is hosted by the SPDC career advisors alongside our Global Ambassador student team, within three different Schools at Elon (Arts & Sciences, Business and Communications).  We are working together to prepare our career services team to work with globally-oriented students, helping them reflect on the skills they learned abroad and articulate them in an effective way. This is also an opportunity to support the work of the GEC in recognizing the importance of wider university participation in the re-entry process.

In addition, both offices are working together in learning about and vetting third party international internship organizations that express an interest in working with Elon students. There are many times that Elon will be contacted by organizations with which we are not familiar, or that an Elon student will find an organization independently and contact either office for advice. So, we are working on a way to streamline the process to use the professional expertise of the SPDC and the global experience expertise of the GEC.

We are excited about these developments among other shared tasks and responsibilities, and look forward to continuing to explore additional areas where we can better support our students by working together. We have learned so much from colleagues in the field, like Marty, and would appreciate any feedback that you have on these types of inter-office collaborations supporting students to integrate their international experience with their career development goals.

Write to Kristen at kaquilino@elon.edu