Archive for November, 2008

Cincinnati’s gift to the world: cornhole

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

With some things knocking around in my brain that I want to get out, I’ve been trying to grab onto a few substantive thoughts and corral them into a semi-coherent post.  Alas, at ten-to-five on the day before Thanksgiving, with the office already deserted, tis not to be.  I’ll save the substance for later.

For now, one last thing before before I get in the car and drive home to Cincinnati for the holiday. I’d actually stumbled across this G.L. Hoffman post (G.L. Hoffman being the chairman of back in early September before we’d even launched the Working World blog and put it in the archives for later. Now, as I prepare to head back to the birthplace of cornhole (Cincinnati, in case that wasn’t clear), seems like to the perfect time to resurrect it. My favorite of Hoffman’s six reasons why he loves his 28-and-under colleagues:

6. They can organize anything, and love to just get together. Certainly, there are “groups,” cliques even; but I am struck by how many softball teams we have, how many parties they seem to organize, and even the stupid bean bag game they have organized in the parking lot.

Nothing stupid about cornhole. Happy Thanksgiving:

Open Doors data: is a year abroad better than just a semester?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Experience abroad has become not just a noteworthy entry on the resume of a job seeker in international affairs, but rather an expected component of the experience one brings in their overall application. In this light, it’s interesting and heartening to note the Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors data, the 2008 version of which was released last week. Specifically, I was pleased (and not surprised) to see that the number of U.S. students studying abroad continues to rise:

Recognizing the importance of an international education in today’s global society, U.S. students are studying abroad in record numbers…the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8% to a total of 241,791 in the 2006/07 academic year…This latest increase marks a decade of unprecedented growth in the number of American students receiving academic credit for their overseas academic experience, with an increase of close to 150%, from under 100,000 in 1996/97 to nearly a quarter of a million in 2006/07.

It’s also significant that more and more students are studying in “non-traditional” locations—IIE points to China, Argentina, South Africa, Ecuador, and India as the most popular of these locations. [When I was in college, 1998-2002, going to Ireland or France seemed like a pretty big deal. Students in college in 2008 now think nothing of heading off to Qatar or Uganda or Cameroon. While I paced endlessly, wringing my hands over a decision to go to France, my younger brother had no qualms about up and going to Ghana for two summers. I'm humbled by what is either my pre-modern mindset or just a lack of balls.]


“He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich”

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Lindsey Pollak suggests Australia as a solid option for gaining work experience abroad:

College students have been studying abroad for decades, but in today’s increasingly global economy, international experience is becoming more and more valuable to employers. When you add the fact that job prospects in the U.S. are not exactly great right now, you may determine that it’s the right time to consider working or studying overseas. If so, I encourage you to add the Land Down Under to your list. New visa rules between the U.S. and Australia make it easier than ever.

Napping our way to productivity

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Sherry often says that “overwhelm is a permanent condition” — meaning that in our daily lives, and in our job searches, we’ll too often feel that there’s simply too much going on, too much to manage in any sensible way.  The overwhelm will never go away so it is essential that we devise strategies to deal with it.  One such strategy? Take a nap.

A personal reaffirmation: banging my head on the wall for international careers

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Over at The Atlantic, Ta’Nehisi Coates, who I sort of read before but am now reading quite a bit more, laments the laziness of writers who don’t engage a subject enough to come at it with any kind of originality. He specifically gets worked up by those who use the now-hackneyed “team of rivals” to describe Obama’s early appointments. To him, this is tantamount to: “I quit. I refuse to respect my subject enough to think about what he specifically represents.” Coates continues:

The best thing about the human brain is that it’s original. None of us think the same. When thinkers amd (sic) writers refuse to employ that originality, when they opt against telling us what is particular, what is specific, what is unique about this moment in time, when they decide to go with the easiest received wisdom at hand, as opposed to deliberating, as opposed to banging their heads on the wall until they arrive at something new, than they are not writers or thinkers any more, but henchmen in the employ of propagandists.

I want to join him on his soap box even while I am humbled by his accusation. I am certainly one who has fallen into the Rancor pit of writing in (meaningless) cliche, especially when it comes to writing on international careers, a fairly new endeavor for me. “Cast the net wide.” “See what’s out there.” “Extend your network.” “Follow your gut.” Do these things really mean anything beyond the worn-out image or association that comes with them? Perhaps they mean something to me, the writer, when I use them, though because the phrases have already been beaten into the ground by repetitious use, they may come to mean something completely different when digested by a reader. And thus, my job of honestly communicating a thought about careers in international education, exchange, and development has not been done– largely because I have not taken the time or energy to express what I am thinking or feeling in any way other than the most expedient.

The point, brought on by Mr. Coates’ mini-rant: a reminder to challenge myself, to bang my head on the wall, in order to make original and unique contributions to this ongoing discussion of international careers, rather than simply say what is easiest.

DC v. South Bend: does location really matter?

Monday, November 24th, 2008

There were a few points during my presentation at the University of Notre Dame’s “Contributions” career event last Tuesday when I wondered if I’m really a lot older than I like to think. Case in point: I wove into my presentation, when talking about the importance of trying to uncover your cause when you search for a job, this clip from the influential and timeless cinematic classic, Office Space:

I showed this not only because it is actually relevant to a point I was trying to make (in Working World, Sherry and I talk about two different ways to go about finding your cause: the “Magic Wand Wand Test” and the “Million Dollar Question”), but also because I think it’s pretty damn funny. Now, I know Office Space is (it’s hard to believe) more than ten years old, but I also thought it was one of those cult classics that regardless of age is something that every college student has seen and would appreciate. Thus, I expected laughter, or at the very least some amused and appreciative chuckles, at my inclusion of this video.

Instead the reaction I got was: blink, blink. I admonished the crowd: “Come on, you guys have got to know this movie. I’m only 28. I’m not that old.” But I later realized it wasn’t just my (sometimes lame) attempts at humor and levity that got little reaction. The audience spent most of the presentation in what looked like a state of semi-stunned silence. It’s not that they weren’t listening or engaged, I don’t think– they were just listening and engaged in a way that I wasn’t quite accustomed to after having done a number of similar presentations to students and interns around DC.


ND Pick of the Week

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Working World got a nice shout-out in Notre Dame Magazine, the publication of my alma mater, as last week’s “pick of the week.”

In other news regarding Notre Dame, I am actually on campus in South Bend, Indiana right now to participate in a series of international career events with students and faculty and will be delivering the keynote address (that’s right, keynote) at an event tonight called “International Impact”: Contributions of Arts and Letters Majors to Society, Business, and Global Relations,  Pretty fancy, I know.  More on the outcomes of this event and these meetings at Notre Dame later.

Travel as much as humanly possible

Monday, November 17th, 2008

I’m back from a few weeks traveling in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore (for a friend’s wedding in Bali first, then just for some traveling, since once you’ve gone that far, you’ve got to make the most of it), and my body is in that strange and very rare place where it thinks that being up at 2:30 a.m. is a very good idea indeed. A few random thoughts on my travels before we get back to the business of the blog:

1) The election. Everywhere I went, everyone I met had an opinion on the election. And what I pointed out in a previous post certainly held true—the vast majority (in fact all people whom I met in the three countries I visited, whether they were cab drivers, hotel staff, food vendors, fellow travelers, or random folks on the street) supported Barack Obama. This did not surprise, but it was striking to experience the phenomenon in person and only further reinforced for me the direction our country needs to head.

I found out that Obama had probably officially won the election from a newspaper vendor on the streets of Penang, Malaysia.


Mentoring: Paying it Forward

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to drive out to Gaithersburg, Maryland and visit my mentor, Dr. William Olson, and his wife Betsy.  They live in an apartment at Asbury, an attractive assisted living facility.  Bill recently celebrated his 88th birthday.  We no longer have our monthly breakfasts at the Cosmos Club so our occasional visits are particularly special. 

I thought a lot about Bill and other mentors who have contributed so much to my own career as I read this article from the November 2008 issue of “Associations Now,” published by the American Society of Association Executives and the Center for Association Leadership.

Seeing Bill on Saturday reminded me of all of the ways he helped me these past 25 years – inviting me to write a chapter for a book he was editing, offering to be my primary sponsor nominating me for membership in the Cosmos Club, counseling me when I considered a job change…

There is no way I can ever repay him, but I can help others the way he helped me.  When I invited Mark to coauthor Working World, I was doing what one of our profilees termed “paying it forward.”  One of the marks of a true professional is that she or he is conscious of the debt owed to others for the teaching, training, and encouragement received.  Take a moment as Thanksgiving approaches to thank a mentor.  I’m so glad I can still tell Bill how much I have benefitted from his wisdom and counsel.  Last Saturday I got to tell him again how, though I cannot properly pay him back, I’m doing my best to “pay it forward.”