Nov24200912:55 pm

“The wanderlust of a new generation”

In so many ways, such a beautiful thing. If my own generation (I’m pushing 30—guh) is one in which the world knows no boundaries and international interaction is an accepted, common, and well-loved part of personal and professional life, then those younger than me—the “next” generation—is pushing this concept to Jean Luc Picard-like heights. And this, it’s worth repeating, is a beautiful thing. It’s one of the reasons I got into the international exchange field. The more and the earlier young people are exposed to the wondrous variety yet common humanity that makes up our world, the better—the better for them, for their families, their countries, their chosen professions, and all of us.

From a purely practical perspective, though, this wanderlust can throw up professional development hurdles. That is, us young folk inflicted with wanderlust, because we are fixated on traveling to exotic locations as part of our careers, tend to view potential job opportunities solely by the travel opportunities inherent within them. I’ve said this before, like yesterday, and I’m drawn to it again because of this BusinessWeek article focusing on the top employers for those who want “international work that will take them abroad.”

I already made my argument yesterday as to why one will be well-served to examine the entirety of a potential job or career track rather than focusing only on the travel aspect, so I won’t rehash things again. But I will make a point I don’t think I’ve made as extensively in this space as I should: that an internationally-oriented job can be deeply fulfilling and help to satisfy wanderlust even if travel isn’t a regular component. In my case, my days are spent deep in issues of international exchange, which I find to be cool and terribly fulfilling. Because I’m immersed in a professional world that is completely international, I always feel international, regardless of where I physically am.

I may be sitting at a desk in DC, but I’m emailing with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. I’m contemplating the potential implications of the lifting of the travel ban to Cuba or of Obama’s promise to send 100,000 American to study in China. I’m meeting with an education ministry representative from Ireland who is helping in our efforts to convince Congress that exchange programs need to be properly, but not overly, regulated. I’m talking to the Fulbright Commission in Mexico. I’m talking to an EducationUSA advisor in Budapest. I’m talking to an exchange agency in Bangkok who is helping to recruit our next international intern.

True, I get very excited about the actual international trips I get to take and for me, like for so many of us, the ability to travel (for work and for pleasure) is a big part of my existence. But the fact that I am immersed in an international world and international issues with international people on a daily basis and in my daily work is not something I take for granted—and all of this does, I find, help to satisfy my wanderlust during those times when I’m not able to jet off for some place new.

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