Chicago, Illinois (NAPSI) - Traveling internationally as a student can be a great way to gain independence, get used to being away from home and learn something about yourself and the world. Those are some of the reasons so many college-bound students first find themselves exploring Europe or signing up for an adventure Down Under. That very popularity, however, can mean it’s not easy to make it stand out on your résumé.
Five Steps Toward Success
To help, Karen Jacobs, Ed.D., a professor at Boston University, offers five tips on making the most of a student tour and having the time of your life in the process:
1. Pick up a language. In the job market, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese are increasingly important for doing business. Learn the basics of a language before you travel and add that to your résumé. It shows colleges you have drive and determination and employers are always seeking the multilingual.
2. Take your network worldwide. When you blog and post pictures of your time with friends around the world, you’re creating a great record for years to come. Human Resources people may check your social media channels, so surprise them with cool, global connections in your personal network.
3. Build friendships that last. When you travel with students from other schools and communities, you have a unique opportunity for great new relationships and networking opportunities.
4. Volunteer. Make the most of your chance to do good in your host country. Take pictures and post them on your social channels. This not only shows strong character to a prospective boss or admissions officer, it’s a great opportunity to learn about a country as is not told in a guidebook. You’ll also connect with caring people who are trying to make a difference.
5. Develop an ability to be more mindful and tolerant of others around you. By building your cross-cultural communication skills and global awareness and by interacting with people in other cultures through travel, you can gain a key advantage—“cultural intelligence” (CQ™)—in today’s diverse workplace. Whether you’re applying to college, grad school or your first job, your CQ can make a big difference.
How’s Your CQ?
CQ is a way to measure a person’s cultural competency and global sensitivity, and, according to Dr. David Livermore, president of the Cultural Intelligence Center, CQ is like IQ in that it’s measurable, but unlike IQ, it can be significantly developed and improved.
Travel alone doesn’t always increase your CQ, says Dr. Livermore. However, there are two steps you can take to make sure that your international experience does boost your CQ:
• Reflect. Write down your reflections on your travels: what was it like to be a “foreigner” in another culture or how you were able to communicate across a language barrier. Employers are looking for just this kind of critical thinking and creative problem solving. Post your thoughts on social media or an industry blog or use them as talking points for a job interview. For example, Laura Beachy found her travels as a student with People to People, when added to her physics major and adventurous spirit, led to her dream job. In her interview with NASA, she was able to speak thoughtfully about her experiences with other cultures. She landed the job and now works with people from many countries to manage the heating and oxygen systems for the International Space Station.
• Grow. To keep the journey alive, when you get home, try cooking traditional dishes or reading books set in your destination. You’ll also want to stay connected with the international network of friends you’ve developed, from your home-stay family to your guides to the volunteers you served alongside. All these activities can continue to grow your global awareness.
Your well-honed CQ can not only help you get a good job, it can help you make the world better. Dr. Livermore describes CQ as the difference between gridlock and innovation, frustration and insight, loss and opportunity. “With the help of cultural intelligence,” he explains, “we can create better solutions than either of us can apart.”
People to People’s two- to three-week trips have actually been shown to increase students’ CQ as much as a full semester of study abroad from an Ivy League college. To learn how to become a People to People Ambassador, check out an information meeting near you. Visit www.PeopletoPeople.com or call (800) 669-7882 for meeting dates and locations.