“Working Globally Through the Pandemic” Podcast!

The pandemic has turned our lives upside down and inside out, roiling our daily life patterns and presumptions. Even the simplest things, like going out for a meal, have changed drastically. So what does it mean for some of the really BIG things, like looking for a job and pursuing a global career?

That’s what my new podcast, in collaboration with GW-CIBER, tackles. “Working Globally Through the Pandemic” presents inspiring stories from seasoned professionals who have embraced a global role and reaped the benefits. We offer practical advice and insider tips for a variety of industries about what it’s like to work globally–and through the effects of COVID-19. We’ll be covering many topics, including:

  1. How different industries have been affected by the pandemic – and what that means for the future.
  2. Which changes that companies have made will become the new ways of doing business.
  3. How technology has played a role thus far—and what can we expect of it for the future.
  4. What trends and opportunities are emerging within the global workforce that job seekers should be aware of.
  5. What skills are necessary to succeeding in the global marketplace in the coming years, and:
  6. What’s it really like to work internationally during the pandemic?

If you love adventure and thrive on taking risks and operating outside your comfort zone, join us as we explore the ins and outs of pursuing an international career!

Click here for Episode 1: Global Human Resources with Steve Miranda

Click here for the Global Careers Podcast Introduction with Professor Anna Helm and Stacie Berdan



Language Learning Hits All-time High During Lockdown

Years from now when we look back on the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re going to reflect on the many ways our lives changed in 2020. One of the more interesting aspects will be how we filled the extra time we had due to lockdowns and quarantine. People turned to making sourdough bread, spending hours birding beyond their backyards, and binging movies on streaming services.

But did you know that millions of people started learning another language?

On the language learning app Duolingo alone, more than 30 million people attempted to learn a new language in the first three weeks of lockdown in 2020. Of these new learners, 40.5% were members of Generation Z. Interestingly, Turkish was the fastest growing language of interest in the U.S., but Spanish remained the most popular choice. Additionally, there was an 85% increase of language learning from 2019 for just 13- and 14-year-olds, with Japanese as the group’s most popular choice. New users cited brain stimulation, cultural interest, and family ties as their top motivating factors for picking a language. Globally, new signups on Duolingo grew by 108% in merely three weeks when the first lockdowns began. In this same period, U.S. users grew by 148%, representing millions of new Americans committing to learning a foreign language.

The fact that so many people, now that they have the time, value learning another language makes my heart soar. But it makes sense.

We’ve been isolated and we want to connect. Learning a language is about communicating and connecting with another person and another culture. It offers learners the opportunity to delve into another culture’s history, geography, current events, and even climate and environment. Studying another language takes us beyond our borders and into a rich world that beckons us, to explore it one day.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has stripped us of so much, it has also given us time to invest in activities we’ve wanted to do for so long, but didn’t have the time. According to a recent British Council survey on lockdown language-learning, for many adults in the UK, a lack of foreign language skills is a cause of regret: only 9% of respondents said that they had kept up with the language they learned in school, yet 64% wished they had. Learning another language helps to fill the void of interrupted professional or academic goals with focused, active progress that can be tracked against key milestones.

In addition to personal fulfillment, language skills are a definite plus to highlight on a resume. People who speak a second language are proven to think more creatively, have access to a greater variety of jobs, and are able to work successfully on diverse teams.

As the pandemic has shown us all to well, the world is a lot more interconnected than many of us may have believed. So if you’re interested in learning another language, do your research into various language learning apps, such as Duolingo, Memrise, Busuu, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone, and even online virtual language learning, such as that offered by Concordia Language Villages. Consider what’s best for you and set realistic goals. Language learning can be difficult and it takes time. But it’s well worth the effort.

If you’ve recently taken up learning a language, want to, or simply support language learning, join ACTFL’s Lead with Languages Advocacy in February with its #IHeartLanguages campaign.

Speaking of Success: Languages & Careers

The ability to communicate in multiple languages is a valuable commodity in today’s job market.

According to recent research done by the Financial Times, bilingual employees make better managers and leaders. Knowing another language enables you to communicate with colleagues, customers or clients in other countries and cultures—but it also helps you understand the rich, complex global world we live in — on a deeper level.

These skills translate across all types of careers working for large multinational organizations like Coca-Cola, Toyota or the World Bank……or a small business or food pantry in your local community. Language skills are beneficial if you serve your government as a member of the civil service or diplomatic core……and are just as relevant if you’re an engineer, a nurse, a journalist or an accountant……whether you speak Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Hindi or English as your “other” language.

Whatever language is your passion, the time you have spent thus far, no matter your level, is a GIFT that should be used as a foundation for more learning and as a means for differentiating yourself in school, at university, in your job search and throughout your career.

I recently had the opportunity to lead a dynamic panel discussion about the value of multiple language skills across a variety of professions and careers that included four inspiring women who shared their experiences on:

  1. How have their language skills helped them in their careers thus far?
  2. What trends and opportunities do they see emerging in the workforce.
  3. How have they kept up their language skills – and much more!

Take a look, get motivated and KEEP STUDYING LANGUAGES!

Thanks to Maria Villaquiran, Yingying Zou, Naz Manji and Connie Berdan for their insight, encouragement and practical tips on why you should keep studying–or start anew!–another language.


Working Globally Through the Pandemic

One month ago, I lead a virtual panel on “Working Globally Through the Pandemic–The Outlook for a Global Career in a Post-COVID19 World”, sponsored by The George Washington University-Center for International Business & Education Research (GW-CIBER). We had 8 fabulous global thinkers across many different disciplines. Leaders who not only have had successful global careers, but who are working through the pandemic now AND found the time to give back.

I’ve been fortunate to work with GW for the past 10 years as we strive to help students understand the vast array of global careers out there, prepare job seekers for the ups and downs of working cross-culturally, enable a global workforce to succeed across a wide swath of industries and fields, and, of course, to inspire people to seek out the fulfilling life as a global citizen without ever leaving one’s home country.

Working internationally takes effort. It’s more than just flying to a destination, meeting with clients and solving problems. Above all, it’s about relationships, trust, meeting people half way or more than half-way–somewhere on common ground. Listening to what people have to say. And picking up on the non-verbal cues going on in a room. All of this is made much harder by the pandemic. Closed borders mean virtual meetings and increased opportunity for misinterpretation and miscommunication. Country-specific pandemic responses have created a silent uneasiness as different cultures grapple with their responses. People wary of globalization and the downsides are speaking up. Yet, globalization is here to stay. But that does not mean that we keep things status-quo. Instead, we should look toward learning what we can from the pandemic’s interrupted production effects of interrupted supply chains, export restrictions and xenophobia–and instead focus on the positive aspects of sharing ideas and creativity to learn from each other.

In that spirit I’m sharing the recording of the panel discussion, which is insightful and timely advice on global careers.

I hope that you and your friends and family, your circle, is doing well and everyone is healthy. #GoGlobal




Part 2: IWE Interview: One-on-one with Stacie Nevadomski Berdan

The Interview with IWE continues…

Q. What are you working on now?
A. I am actually getting back into a full-time role again, doing some new research and launching a few new social tools using digital technology. A little more than a year ago, my mother passed away. I had been helping her for the previous year (I feel immensely blessed that I had the time with her) and although I managed to be a daughter, mother, wife and business owner—the stress took its toll on me. Losing my Mom was very hard, and I decided that I needed some time. I reduced my speaking engagements and focused on just a few favorite clients. I’ll be getting back into full swing at the start of this summer.

Q. What excites and inspires you most?
A. I am passionate about communicating to as many people at all ages and walks of life the need to develop a global mindset. If more people around the world respected each other’s differences, acknowledged that we are more alike than different as human beings, the world would be a more peaceful place. I have found that especially in the U.S., people do not appreciate the value of learning another language, the life-changing experience of studying abroad, the beauty of learning about other people and cultures. But often times, after they’ve heard my rationale, they can see the value, and I know I’ve changed another mind. This inspires me to continue doing my work.

Q. Do you mentor or sponsor anyone?
A. People with international experience are not common so wherever I speak, I offer attendees or students to connect with me and engage with me on global topics. For many business school programs, I serve as a mentor, almost always to young women, who are considering pursuing an international career. I find that it is best for me to spread myself as far and wide as possible to help as many people as possible. But I have a soft spot for women looking to go global.

Q. How important do you think it is to have a mentor and/or sponsor?
A. I think mentors are very important, but they must be authentic to be as beneficial as possible. And so within networks, organizations, workplaces mentoring is critical, especially for women. I believe that women helping women is supremely important if we are to keep advancing our causes. And so while I would not call it mentoring, any type of help or advice—even choosing physicians and business partners who are women—that I can take makes an impact.

Q. Finally, what ‘floats your boat’? What do you like to do in your spare time?
A. I am a foodie and so eating and cooking (mostly!) healthy dishes from around the world for family and friends is a joy. I love to exercise and practice yoga, lift weights, and hike high and low, short and long trails. I enjoy gardening, specifically flowers, and love getting my hands in the dirt. I am a voracious reader and am always looking for great reads, and for people to discuss books with. I love to travel and am especially happy when I’m able to combine one or all of the above on the road with my husband, Mike, my twin daughters, and/or friends I’ve made around the world. The world is an immensely interesting place, and I feel fortunate to have explored a lot of it—but not nearly enough of it.

IWE Interview: One-on-one with Stacie Nevadomski Berdan Part 1

Last summer I was interviewed by International Women of Excellence about my career. Both a podcast and a Q&A were done but the materials weren’t available to non-IWE members. Since it’s been almost a year, I’m sharing the Q&A here in two parts due to length. I try to share as much of my material with my subscribers, and I hope you enjoy it. : )

Q. Tell us a bit about your interesting career journey to date

A. I am a lucky woman. I have had two great careers so far and have loved them both. I started my career in Washington, D.C., at the global PR and marketing giant Burson-Marsteller (recently merged as BursonCohn&Wolfe), where I began as an entry-level assistant account supervisor. I worked out of the DC, Hong Kong and New York offices over the course of 12 years working my way up to Global Account Managing Director and WPP Partner for clients around the world. I worked hard. I raised my hand for all kinds of assignments. I had excellent teachers and mentors. But it was my three years in Asia that catapulted my career from mid-level executive to global consultant for some of the largest MNCs. It was in Asia where my career really took off. I learned that having the ability to work across cultures, through different languages, and solve clients’ problems by leading a diverse team of professionals to deliver results was a hot commodity—and one that not many of my peers had—and one that I enjoyed and was good at. My international experience—I’ve worked in more than 50 countries and have led global virtual teams across 25 countries—inspired me to co-author my first award-winning book, Get Ahead By Going Abroad, with Perry Yeatman in 2007. Since then I have published an additional five books on the intersection of globalization and careers. I spend the majority of my time consulting for organizations, and speaking at conferences and on campuses across the country where I talk about the importance of developing a global mindset for career, lifestyle and beyond.

Q. What are you most proud of?
A. Writing a book is hard! But even more difficult than writing a book is finding a top-notch publisher; the field is crowded with so many experts who have great things to say. I am most proud of my ability to have written a successful book proposal that was bought by HarperCollins, one of the most prestigious publishers in the world—and then deliver that book within the four-month deadline I was given. My co-author had gone back to work full-time so she reviewed drafts, but the bulk of the research and writing was on me. Get Ahead By Going Abroad was received with tremendous media attention; it won two business awards and continues to sell well today (paperback, digital and audio), more than 12 years after its hardcover publication.

Q. What have been your own greatest career challenges and how have you overcome them?
A. I have many but two rise to the top as the greatest challenges for me, and they are different. The first was my re-entry back to DC after my three-year stint in Hong Kong. I felt as if I had achieved great things and had so much to share, but my DC colleagues didn’t appreciate where I’d been and what I’d accomplished. I felt lonely, isolated and undervalued. I was considering leaving when the COO recommended I speak to another former expat who had lived and worked on three continents. He was a lifeline and career saver for me. He helped me understand how to package my skills to sell into clients and gave me comfort that although there weren’t many of us, the close-knit group of global workers were there for each other. It worked, and I turned my time abroad into an immensely successful career as a consultant.

The second was overcoming my fear of public speaking. Although as a consultant I was required to present and speak in front of clients, I was never very comfortable standing up “presenting”. I preferred small group discussions where I could advise clients around a table. Speaking on a stage, though, to thousands of people ratcheted up my fear to even greater heights! For the first year of my book tour, I was terrified every time I went on stage, and often hoped my taxi would get a flat, or my flight would be delayed so I didn’t have to speak! A colleague saw me speak and asked me why I was so nervous (it came through) because she said my content was great and clearly I had some interesting things to share. She advised me to practice regularly, tape myself (or watch taped speeches I’d given) and see how well I did—and that I could do even better if I didn’t use my notes. I did as she advised, and I began to really enjoy speaking! So much so that now I love to speak in front of crowds talking up my passion; on average I have given about 40-50 talks a year for the past 10 years.

Q. Much of your work and writing uses your international business experience and focusses on working across cultures and promoting global awareness. Do you have any advice for those striving to reach senior levels in global companies, say 3 top tips?

Get international experience. Work abroad, take on a global role, be part of global virtual teams. Organizations need workers who can tap the bounty of markets around the world. How can you grow your company if you only understand your own country? How can you manage people of different cultures or who speak different languages if you’ve never had work in them? Wise large organizations recognize the value of international experience and often require it to get to the top.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Take the job you’re not sure you can do. Move to a country you’ve been offered a leadership role in. take risks and ask for help along the way. Learn from your mistakes. This lesson is probably the one that has sustained me most from my time working internationally.

Advocate for yourself. Don’t take anything for granted. As a woman who has worked for 25+ years in the corporate environment, I’ve seen a lot of change. But still, women get pushed aside for promotions, don’t get as much opportunity as men, get paid less. Don’t assume you are going to get that promotion or raise because you’ve done a great job. Ask for it. Network. Make it happen.

Q. What do you see are the main challenges?
A. I believe that people hire people like them. Until we change what that senior level looks like, women will continue to be hired less often for top jobs. Going abroad offers many a chance to circumvent the normal chain of advancement by exiting and then returning with phenomenal experience in an area of growth, or line or management experience. But it takes a high tolerance for risk and oftentimes a willing partner. But it can be done, So many women have and continue to do so.

Q. On a practical level, do you have any advice for those who travel extensively for work? How do you keep your mind and body fresh and alert for international business?
A. Travel, especially long-haul international travel, can wear you down. I recommend a few things.

First, keep a healthy lifestyle. By that I mean eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables on the plane (I bring my own plane food), drinks lots of water, exercise/work out every day, and drink as little alcohol as possible (especially on the plane).

Second, try to arrive the day before or stay a few days after. The day before allows you to acclimate, see some sights and get into a routine. A few days after is a nice reward to treat yourself to an interesting museum, historic site, a spa or whatever you like.

Third, get to know your destination, your host, the language or culture a little bit. This allows you to talk about it with your host, colleagues or co-workers showing that you care about the place, its people, the business—the positive feedback you receive will reenergize you.

To be continued in the next blog!

It’s Women Wednesday or WomenWOW: Q&A

In honor of National Women Wednesday (the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving), I’m sharing my story as a woman small business owner who is dedicated to helping women launch international careers. I launched my second career more than 12 years ago with the publication of the award-winning, Get Ahead By Going Abroad: A Woman’s Guide to Fast-track Career Success (HarperCollins 2007), with subsequent editions in paperback, e-book, audio and translated into several languages. It’s been a wild ride since then so I decided to start culling through all the content that I wrote since then and I have found some really good stuff! So every now and then I plan to release some of it, updated as appropriate. This blog shares the Q&A from an interview I did with “Great Authors”.

Q: One of the basic motifs in your book is fast tracking a career by going abroad. Can you explain to our members how that works?

A: Working in a foreign market can accelerate a career because it broadens professional capabilities and stimulates personal growth. First, going global creates differentiation because you are often given enhanced, challenging or simply different responsibilities and sooner, which leads to greater recognition by supervisors in country and leadership back home, which generally translates into increased pay and faster promotions. Second, going abroad offers many opportunities not always available in your home market, including access to high-level business contacts and ability to take on line and management responsibility earlier in a career, especially if working in a smaller and/or developing market. Conversely, if moving to a more advanced market, sophisticated projects, cutting-edge technical know-how and soaking up knowledge while working on world-class teams create a highly desirable resume. Third, the personal growth that takes place while working and living in a foreign environment equals the professional: Immersing oneself in a new culture, learning new skills, unlearning old ones and delivering results on the job boost self-confidence and usually translate into enhanced leadership and management skills earned earlier in a career. One more important point: It takes work to make the most of an international job, and so it’s critical that professionals assume this responsibility going in to make the most of it ongoing–the focus of half of the book.

Q: Your book is aimed at women. Is this a way through the Glass Ceiling, for women? Why?

A: In our research with more than 200 professional women with international experience, 83 percent agreed their time abroad was key to their rapid advancement, and 53 percent agreed going global is a way to break through the glass ceiling. The reasons cited above work for both men and women, but the real differentiator–and a big “a-ha!” for us–was learning the reason behind significant success in cross-cultural situations is a women’s innate feminine style. Her skills such as adaptability, flexibility, communications ability, the way in which she build relationships and teams, and her patience and persistence–or grace under pressure – are critical to ongoing success in cross-cultural situations. Women have, on average, a 94 percent success rate in international assignments.

Q: How can entry level professionals plan an international career, while keeping an eye on the fast track opportunities?

A: Going global works well at any level, it depends on what’s right for the professional–and what she makes of it. For example, going global right out of college provides an exciting first job and gets an international career off to a fast start. But since technical skills and know-how are minimal, we recommend staying only 3-4 years unless working for a large multinational in its HQs. Going abroad as a junior executive with a few years experience allows one to build on a budding skill set, as well as provide a network to serve as a link back home once abroad. A mentor ranks top of the list for both of these junior professionals.

Q: Is the international option a good possible career reviver for people who are stuck on the shelf in their present positions?

A: Yes. For those who want to jump-start a stalled career, work on more exciting projects and/or simply want to break from the competitive pack, going global could be the ticket needed to catapult levels past peers. For professionals in middle management, with 7-10 years of experience, we’ve seen the most dramatic strides. Just when they’re ready for more, opportunities are limited at home, and so going abroad to enhanced opportunities and greater responsibilities creates an environment for fast-learning and fast-tracking. In addition, for those going through layoffs and redundancies, searching for jobs–or requesting a transfer to a booming market–could be a great way to not only keep a job with a growing company, but add tremendous value to a resume.

Q: How do people learn to find their way around the global job market?

A: It’s a new space, and so we devoted two chapters to this topic in our book, Get Ahead By Going Abroad. The most important aspects are first, determining if it’s right for you; second, devising a strategy to land the assignment; and three, network with internationalists.

Q: Does the international approach mean much job hopping, or can you work things according to your preferences?

A: If “job hopping” is defined as switching employers, no, many professionals can successful work for one company, in one industry in many countries around the world. However, the jobs are usually different simply by definition of being operated in a different country. Difference is good and through it growth takes place. The vast majority of people we interviewed agree that these new skills create opportunities, which sometimes leads to career changes.

Q: When applying for international jobs, what sort of research is involved, and what should people make sure they know? The right research will prove critical to landing the best international assignment for you. The questions people should ask themselves as they begin include Why do I want an international assignment–is my objective money, career advancement, travel? What market offers me best opportunities? If I work for a multinational company, where can I put my skills to use? Where do they need someone like me? What is it about my background that makes me the best candidate for a specific opportunity? Next, professionals should do research on countries of interest and learn about culture, language, economies, religion–the answers that would help one know if that culture is right or not.

Q: What should be avoided? Are there any big Don’ts in an international career?

A: To be successful in the international marketplace, you have to know yourself. Going global takes a certain amount of risk and tremendous level of comfort operating outside one’s comfort zone. Trust your instincts: If you have serious reservations, for instance, about the job, the country, the culture–don’t go.

Q: The international CV is an often-argued point in the employment market. Some employers get a bit confused looking at what is to them a foreign CV. What’s the best way to manage CV style, and tailor it for an employer?

A: It all depends on your target and so it’s best to start with a global framework–one that contains all information pertinent yet strongly reflects your global experience. Then do your research about the various styles acceptable in the country you’re targeting and tailor for multiple CVs. Use your international network to help you determine best approach to company and country.

Q: What’s the most dramatic success you’ve seen in the fast track overseas career field?

A: The thousands of women who have catapulted their way to the top across industries, nationalities and countries. These women have then turned this success into maximum gain as defined by them–that’s success. For some, it’s the c-suite and continued executive management. For others, it’s early retirement, resting on their laurels at an early age (most in mid-40s to early 50s). Still there are others who have turned this success into a new career or an entrepreneurial adventure by doing something completely different. This is what I have done and I owe my second career as successful writer, speaker and consultant to my international experience.

#GoGlobal! #womenWOW

Critical Component to International Careers: Building Relationships

A few weeks ago, I spoke at GWU, keynoting the 6th Women in Global Careers Roundtable event, sponsored by CIBER (Center for International Business Education and Research). I look forward to this event every year! Why? Because it wraps up everything I have come to love about my job: Working with a great team of professionals at the GWU School of Business, planning and executing an event designed by women for women interested in global careers; making a difference in the lives of women starting out in the careers; and bringing together a handful of fantastic, global women–Global Mentors–who always turn out to be the most interesting people I know.

Some of the Global Mentors have been friends or colleagues for decades. Others are relatively new to my global network. But for all, I get to know them a little better, they get to know each other, and new relationships have begun. We are walking the talk because relationships are a critical component to international careers.

Here are 5 reasons:


The more people you know, the more likely it is that one of them will be able to recommend you for or tell you about an international position. The vast majority of women I’ve interviewed landed their international because they raised their hands for assignments…sought out other people within the organization who could help them… and could count on colleagues to vouch for both their technical abilities and their soft skills.


When you work in a different country, within a different culture, perhaps through an interpreter or in your second language, a lot goes on that you will not understand—you may not even know it’s happening! Being the kind of professional who can build teams and relationships with all kinds of people remains one of the most important skills to have in any type of international career. You must be able to work well with others… inspire people to work with you… and ask for help when you need it.


People want a sense of who a person is in order to recommend them for a global role, a new business opportunity, an award, or a position in an office or site outside the US. Yes, it’s great if you’re that person who can crunch numbers quickly… make the trains run on time…or create an awesome tag line. But each of us is much our resume. We must build relationships to show our human side. 


Getting to know your customers, clients, coworkers and other influencers and stakeholders will enhance your bottom line. It will increase the likelihood of contracts being renewed…your distribution channels expanding. Building relationships with your team members will help motivate them to get the work done well and on time—maybe even exceed expectations. Because people like to work with people. They like to know their consultant, supervisor or co-worker isn’t a jerk just out for themselves, but a person they wouldn’t mind having a coffee or beer with. Of all the countries I’ve worked in—more than 50—the US is the most transactional and the least relationship driven. This makes it harder for Americans to exceed beyond our borders. But if you are the type of person who is proven to develop relationships well, knows how to lead and work on teams, and is able to see the bigger picture beyond yourself and your assignment, you will be noticed.



The global life can be exciting and thrilling, jetting around the world working in Paris one week and Hong Kong the next….except when it’s lonely, tiring and extremely stressful. When your bags are lost somewhere over the Atlantic and you can’t fall asleep in yet another strange hotel. Deepening relationships with clients and coworkers bring more joy into the time we spend working. Having global friends who understand what you’re going through will make a world of difference toward your creating much-needed balance in your global life.

You might also consider the global aspect of another type of relationship: Your life partner. It is very important to recognize that if you want a global career, your partner should share your passion, or at the very least support you if they don’t have global aspirations of their own. And that “global” means the same thing to both of you: If you’re thinking Singapore but they’re thinking Vancouver…you’ll run into problems.

While high GPAs and a long list of activities, assignments, jobs and internships will enhance your career prospects……and speaking another language or two, studying or interning abroad and developing a global mindset will move you closer to an international career……developing relationships with all kinds of people across all kinds of industries and fields will open up your mind and expand your network which will, in turn, make landing an international assignment that much more likely.

Find out more about how you can #GoGlobal!


Book Review: The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury

I’ve read a lot of books this summer. Many from the list of “Globetrotting” put together by the New York Times published in January.

Sometimes it’s really nice to get lost in the lives of the characters in a novel. That’s just what happened to me when I started reading The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury, a delightful, circuitous and unexpected story written by Marc Levy, France’s most-read novelist.

The story follows Alice, a 39-year old British woman, who lost both of her parents in an air strike during the war. The house she grew up in had disappeared overnight along with her mother, father and all of their belongings. It’s now 1950, and Alice has made a new life for herself with a close group of friends in London. She has a profession she loves: She is “a nose”—she has an acute sense of smell–and she blends fragrances to sell to London perfume shops. She lives and works in a drafty flat and has regular encounters with her cantankerous neighbor, Doldry, who is a painter, disapproves of her loud gatherings and covets her flat’s skylight.

Alice and her friends go on a daytrip to Brighton, where she encounters a fortune teller’s caravan. Alice’s friends persuade her to have her fortune read. The strange old woman insists that she has seen Alice’s eyes before and that she carries a story without even realizing it. She also tells her that the man who will be the most important in her life was walking right behind her that night, but that she would need to meet six other people first before she would find him—and the amazing journey would take her to Istanbul the city of her birth. Alice brushes this off as nonsense knowing for certain that she is a British citizen. But she can’t get the idea out of her head.

As she mulls this over, she develops an unlikely friendship with Doldry and with his help, they set off on an evocative and exotic expedition that sees Alice traveling through post war Europe to the mysteries of Turkey. The reader is taken along through a world of different scents, cultures, experiences and histories challenging Alice to discover who she really is.

Enhancing Career Prospects with Study Abroad

Fall is upon us and students are (mostly) back on campus. Many students will head to the global studies or study abroad office in the early days, planning ahead for the spring semester, or perhaps figuring out how best to incorporate study abroad into their academic program. I’ve put together a list of the most commonly asked questions I get from students, their parents and academic / career counselors.

What advantages do you see in someone studying abroad? What about advantages for someone already in the workplace, not just someone just leaving college?

There are many, many benefits to studying abroad. In general terms, studying abroad expands one’s personal horizons as well as opens up a world of professional opportunities for both students and those already in the workplace. Embracing and immersing oneself in a new culture and experiencing new ways of thinking leads to new perspectives about people, places and often themselves. Those who have studied abroad have an opportunity to develop a deeper self-awareness and self-confidence as they rise to the constant challenges of taking on a whole new range of situations. No matter when a person studies abroad, learning another language (or two) is one of the greatest benefits, albeit one that takes a little longer to acquire.

Is studying abroad a key way to keep up professionally in an increasingly global world?

Studying abroad is one way to keep up professionally, but it may not be practical for everyone. There are other ways to gain global experience such as an international assignment (short- or long-term), being part of a global team dealing with international issues, learning another language, and building relationships with international students or colleagues.

How does studying abroad help someone’s career? Does it for example lead to better job prospects?

Studying abroad is a smart way to establish international credentials in a global economy: to learn a different language, culture, education system, social system, local economy, industry or business, history arts and more. This knowledge can be applied to a job directly (e.g., the employer has operations in a certain country), or indirectly by demonstrating an ability to learn new skills, work with diverse people and adapt to complex situations.

Do employers actively look for or approve of individuals who have studied abroad?

Yes! Based on conversations I have been having with employers over the past decade, executives consistently say that they value the intellectual curiosity associated with those who have studied abroad. They believe that these people are on track to becoming globally competent and globally minded employees. The vast majority say that if they received two resumes that were exactly the same except one studied abroad, they would choose the one who studied abroad citing such attributes as cross cultural awareness, critical thinking, adaptability, multiple language skills and a predisposition to and experience with global mobility.

What less obvious ways might studying abroad help an individual by, for example, teaching them to become more adaptable or independent.

As noted above, study abroad inspires one to learn about oneself and become more self-aware, boosts self-confidence and strengthens independence. It will expand one’s worldview while also helping one learn about their own country and history, thereby appreciating its place in the world. Returnees have cited better communication, relationship-building and adaptability skills, plus it is a terrific way to meet interesting people and make lifelong friends.

Did you study abroad? If so, please describe your experience and how it might have helped with your career.

No, I didn’t. I couldn’t afford to study abroad because I also worked full time. But my closest group of friends in college were all international students who were studying abroad. This reverse exposure to studying abroad allowed me to expand my cross-cultural awareness and enhance my language skills. It also taught me that I wanted to work abroad. A few years into my career at Burson-Marsteller, I began to pursue an international assignment and landed one because of my abilities to work successfully on global teams and articulate the need for consultants to have global experience to apply to client problems. I worked in Hong Kong for three years, which was an impetus for fast-tracking my career, increasing my salary and inspiring me to write the first of my six books.

Are there any words of caution you could add for someone planning to study abroad? Is it suitable for everyone?

Studying abroad is a serious undertaking. It is challenging, costs money and will have an impact on one’s academic career. Picking up and moving to another country for a semester or year requires a good deal of research, thoughtful planning and honest self-assessment. It can be lonely and very difficult to live in a strange place, take classes in a totally different academic environment, and meet people and make friends. Some destinations may be “easier” to adjust to than others, specifically as it relates to language and culture, but every new place has its own challenges. The only one who can decide if it’s right is the person going. Pick up a copy of A Student Guide to Study Abroad a valuable hands-on resource with hundreds of tips and real-life stories from students and employers.

Make study abroad part of your undergraduate studies!