My good friend Geoff Gloeckler, a staff editor at BusinessWeek, passed along his interview with the Dean of the Farmer School of Business at Miami University, Roger Jenkins, with these words: ‘this video might be of interest to you, especially the end.’ Indeed—in the last two minutes of the interview, Dean Jenkins basically makes the case I wish I’d been able to make when trying to convince my parents that my plan to spend a year in China was not just a waste of time or a way to put off the inevitable. Says Dean Jenkins:
The particular option that I personally…that my faculty and alumni are aggressively encouraging our students to think about is the international option. At the Farmer School, we’ve been very aggressive globalizing the curriculum, the students, the faculty. We’ve been very aggressive in setting up exchange programs around the world, particularly focused on China and Asia. And even before this crisis hit, a lot of our graduates would see the wisdom of spending a year in China, teaching English, learning Mandarin, learning the culture. And now this crisis has hit, a larger, larger number are saying ‘This is the perfect time to add to my resume, to add to my skill sets, and come back being much more marketable than when I left. And at the end of the day, this has been a great thing for me because it forced me to step beyond my comfort range and forced me to get beyond the comfort of geography and so forth and really make myself more marketable’…We live in a small world, a seamless world, and the global is a part of that.
Note that for Dean Jenkins—the dean of a business school—an abroad experience for his students is not just a throwaway, but rather a necessary thing in a globalized world, a way to “add to my resume, to add to my skill sets, and come back being much more marketable than when I left.” It’s certainly proven true for me, and for many many others, whether they are working in the fields of international education, exchange, and development or some other field, that an experience abroad has not only had a deeply formative effect, but has also made us more marketable and added to our resumes in very substantive ways. And all this despite that fact that many of us didn’t know exactly what kind of specific career benefit our time abroad would have.
So for all of you struggling with your parents and trying to convince them that going abroad is in fact not only what you want to do, but also a good thing for your career, put them in touch with Dean Jenkins (or at least forward them Geoff’s interview).