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Expert shares tips for overseas success

By : Rachel Coker

Jean-Marc Hachey, author of The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas, speaks to a crowd of students, faculty, staff and administrators about how to compete for internships and jobs abroad during a seminar held Nov. 2 in the Old Union Hall.

Faculty and staff should encourage students to be bold and persistent in pursuing international experiences, author Jean-Marc Hachey told a group of more than 75 people during a Nov. 2 presentation on campus.

Hachey, author of The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas and international career editor for Transitions Abroad magazine and magazine, held a series of lectures and workshops on the theme of preparing for work in the global economy.

“International careers are not built overnight,” Hachey said. “You have to go step by step  over time.”

Faculty and staff should serve as facilitators  for international experiences, Hachey said, allowing students to do the hands-on work of setting up class presentations and orientation sessions for departing study abroad students. Students should then highlight these experiences on their résumés.

Hachey emphasized that international recruiting is based on personality as well as one’s “international IQ.” That means:

■ Having political, economic and geographic knowledge.
■ Being familiar with the international aspects of your field.
■ Having cross-cultural knowledge and skills for the overseas work environment.
■ Developing personal coping and adapting skills.

The hiring process, including the style of résumé and the format of interviews, may be quite different from what Americans are used to, he said. And international managers, rather than personnel offices, are the place to start.

For low-skilled work, students may choose to search by country. For example, a student who wants to spend a year in France may look for a position there as an au pair. However, a student looking for a professional position should search by sector and be open to the possibility of working almost anywhere.

Hachey said a paid volunteer position overseas can open up doors for a young person. He’s also a fan of programs that hire Americans to teach English abroad.

Hachey encourages American students looking to work abroad to approach American companies that do business overseas. “When you’re promoting internationalization,” he said, “you’re promoting the U.S. economy.”

Hachey also believes students should devote at least 15 percent of their time to a pursuit that’s not related to their major. For example, a nursing student who also learns a bit about accounting could be a huge asset to a non-governmental organization overseas. Such small but extraordinary qualifications help students set themselves apart.

Overseas, students learn about their own culture and get comfortable with other cultures, Hachey said. “If you’re a fish,” he said, “you don’t know what water is until you’re thrown up on the bank.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08