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Five Tips for Working in International Education

Last week we celebrated International Education Week (IEW). This joint initiative of the US Department of State and the US Department of Education highlights the many benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. But the benefits don’t end at higher education. Many international students are so inspired by their time abroad that they decide to pursue careers in international education. If you’re among this group, here are five tips aimed at helping you hit the ground running with your search.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Student Tips
Five Tips for Working in International Education

Last week we celebrated International Education Week (IEW). This joint initiative of the US Department of State and the US Department of Education highlights the many benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. But the benefits of international exchange aren't exclusive to the student years. Many international students are so inspired by their time abroad that they decide to pursue careers in international education. If you’re among this group, here are five tips aimed at helping you hit the ground running with your search.

1. Know which careers are available.

International educators hold a variety of jobs in a diversity of environments, including colleges, universities and two-year institutions; ESL programs; education abroad program providers; law firms; international education associations; accreditation agencies; local community international centers; and government entities.

And while teaching may be the most obvious option when it comes to international education jobs, many additional career paths exist, such as study abroad coordinators/advisors; resident directors; campus relationships coordinators; database managers; international education promoters and more.

2. Get a graduate degree.

While it’s possible to get a job in international education with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree goes much further. A recent HigherEdJobs article highlighted the need for international education. But international education degrees are just the start when it comes to positioning you to work in this area. From technology to business to teaching, other degrees can also give you an inside edge.

Not only will an advanced degree help you gain the skills you need to work in an international environment, education doesn’t depreciate -- so along every step of your career, wherever you’re looking for work, your academic credentials will go with you.

3. Make professional experience a must.

While education is imperative to getting a job in international education, it’s not enough on its own, especially in this competitive economy. Enter work experience. This doesn’t have to mean getting a job. Other opportunities exist to procure these skills, including volunteering, interning, and taking advantage of mentoring opportunities. Each of these activities will help boost your resume while also enriching your understanding of this line of work.

Don’t have enough time during the school year? Consider a summer program, such as the US International Council on Disabilities’ Youth in International Development and Affairs DC Internship Program and the US Department of State Student Internship Program.

Your international student advisor can also point you in the direction of other work or internship options.

4. Develop your cultural awareness skills.

The Culturosity Group defines cultural awareness as “the foundation of communication [which] involves the ability of standing back from ourselves and becoming aware of our cultural values, beliefs and perceptions….Cultural awareness becomes central when we have to interact with people from other cultures.”

As university campuses -- and the international education community at large -- are hubs of diversity, cultural awareness can not only help you get a job, but can also help you excel at it while simultaneously playing an important role in the lives of international students.

5. Attend an international education conference.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. In addition to its annual conference and expo with brings together nearly 10,000 international educators and organizers from more than 3,500 institutions and organizations from more than 100 countries, it offers many other programs and events, as well as opportunities to connect and network.

As a NAFSA participant, you’ll increase your marketability while also learning more on invaluable topics, such as student advising for beginners and foreign education credentials analysis.

Still weighing your options when it comes to whether or not to work in international education? The HigherEdJobs article not only reiterated the need for international education in the increasingly globalized world, but also pointed out yet another reason to pursue a career in this area.

Said one university associate vice president and dean for international programs, “The best reason to work in international education is because of the people you meet. I love my job. I feel so fortunate to do this kind of work every single day. There is not a single day in my work when I do not interact with someone who cares deeply about expanding our understanding of one another. How can you not love that??










Joanna Hughes

Author

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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