Archive for March, 2009

“Hedge funds, schmedge funds.” Go into the Foreign Service.

Thursday, March 5th, 2009 reports that the failing economy, along with the promise of new partnerships abroad the Obama admininstration brings, is leading many young people to pursue the Foreign Service. What I liked in this article, even more than the fact that so many people are interested in serving abroad that the Foreign Service exam reached its “worldwide scheduling limit” in February, is that young Americans who don’t have extensive experience overseas (and who often live in smaller, less “international” American cities) are feeling the call to pursue a career in international affairs:

“People are getting more excited about foreign policy,” said Erica Tun, a 24-year-old public-relations specialist from Fort Wayne, Ind., who registered to take the exam this month. “There is a president who is interested in making the nation more global.”

Tun, who has applied for a position in the public diplomacy track, which focuses on defining America’s image abroad, first considered the Foreign Service just a few months ago, when she found an online job posting as the presidential election reached a fever pitch.

“It piqued my curiosity,” she said. “I always had the interest but didn’t have a way to focus my energy.”

For Tun, who has not traveled beyond the Virgin Islands and Canada, the Foreign Service represents an opportunity to explore the world beyond her hometown.

How many babies were born in the time it took me to post this?

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

“The top ten in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.”

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that do not exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t know are problems yet.”

“During the course of this presentation, 395 babies were born in India.”

And so much more…

Social networking as a skill?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

I was discussing recently with Lauren Jacobs, program specialist the USDA International Institute, the appeal (if any) of listing “social networking” as a skill on your resume. Lauren pointed out that almost every organization is starting a blog/a Twitter account/a Facebook group, etc. The question then becomes: do these organizations assume that if you’re applying for a job with them and of a certain age (i.e., young), then you’re automatically proficient in this kind of social networking? Lauren’s thought was not necessarily to “advertise one’s Facebook prowess as an elite skill,” but rather, if you have it, to perhaps highlight your experience with social networking in your resume/cover letter as something that is a very useful and marketable skill.

I think she’s on to something. Young professionals in all fields, including international ones, can really make themselves indispensable to a small organization by expertly guiding it in its use of social networking.  Certainly, as Lauren said, everyone is jumping on the social networking bandwagon.  But that doesn’t mean organizations know how to use these tools effectively. So if you do know how to use social networking as an effective organizational tool, should it be on your resume?

On the one hand, as Lauren points out, “proficient in Facebook” is about as silly a skill to list on your resume as “jogging”—these aren’t skills; these are hobbies. But to put on your resume/in your cover letter that you have actual, substantive experience and skill with not only setting up an organizational presence in a social networking site, but effectively managing and utilizing that presence for the benefit of the organization?  That might be something worth highlighting, especially if the job calls for it, like the job that Lauren noticed floating around the USDA for an E-Marketing Specialist that called for:

Familiarity with Web-based technology, internet trends and social media tools (blogs, wikis, twitter, etc.)

It’s true most people are “familiar” with these things in the way that I am familiar with my tax return—I know that it exists and it’s something I can/should do, but it doesn’t mean I have any idea how to do it well. So I think Lauren’s point is that social networking might be a good skill to highlight if you truly have a deep understanding of social media and how to use it for the benefit of an organization, especially a small international nonprofit that could benefit from the savvy of a young professional who knows how to utilize free technology to make a deep impact. But I think you really need to school yourself in such intricacies and that involves a whole lot more knowledge and experience than updating your status every hour, posting unsightly photos, and tagging far too many of your friends in that damn “25 Things” craze. If that’s all you’ve got, you might want to keep that off the resume.

Any other opinions out there? Is social networking a skill? How can it be utilized for international organizations or to help further your international career?

Doostang must be hurting

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Or they wouldn’t have sent me three emails in the past week trying to get me to pay between $24.95 and $39.95 to have access to Doostang Premium, which they promise me will lead to “premium jobs” and “elite opportunities.” I am still so not at all attracted to using Doostang as a career networking/job search tool, not only for the reasons previously discussed here and here, but also because they seem to think that my idea of a premium job is either, and only, Alternative Assets Analyst or Private Equity Senior Associate. Not that there’s anything wrong with these jobs, but not only do they not interest me personally in any way (which my Doostang profile should tell them), but as someone who writes on careers in international affairs, I’ll admit I bristle at the Doostang notion that the only jobs worthy of the premium label are those in finance and/or corporate consulting.

Reader DivaDivine is also not impressed with Doostang and its Presumption of the Premium:

I joined Doostang almost 3 years ago and never paid it any attention. Back then, you could search and apply for jobs for free. Now, they’re charging a ridiculous sum to even find out which of their Elite companies are hiring. Give me a break. I’m canceling my membership TODAY.

Speaking of premium, if only we could all be unequivocally tall and premium dancers like Alex:

Business school dean says: International experience makes you more marketable

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

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).

Sherry’s in Portland tomorrow night

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

While plugging our event this Wednesday last week, I completely forgot to mention that Sherry is out in Oregon this week and will be hosting “An Evening of Insights on Launching an International Career” tomorrow night in Portland.  It’s from 6:30 to 8:00 at the Bridgeport Brewing Company.  Check out our Facebook page for more details. If you’re in Portland and interested in international careers (and like microbrews), definitely stop by!