When I talk to students about college, we naturally talk about their future career plans and goals. And not surprisingly, many Third Culture Kids or international students in my practice who have had an international experience while growing up seek other international experiences as adults. I have other students, too, who have never been overseas but love the allure of an adventure abroad, and thus dream of doing something international.
I was once that kid, too. I had stars in my eyes about doing “something international” when I grew up, though I really had no idea what it might be. My thoughts and dreams were limited to what I considered an international career – diplomacy. And I didn’t want to do that, really (but ended up marrying a diplomat, so things have a funny way of working out!). In my own journey, I did my undergraduate majors in International Studies and German, then went on to get my teaching credential, a graduate degree in education, taught overseas, then worked for the State Department, and now consider myself the luckiest person in the world to have my own international educational consulting practice. I’m definitely doing “something international” now!
What I wish young people knew is that diplomacy is not the only career out there for people who want to work overseas or have a profession doing “something international”.
This point was brought home to me recently when I participated in the Career Fair at ABA Academy in Muscat, Oman. I had a very small role, manning a table for my friend and colleague, Marcie Frederickson, who is the high school counselor extraordinaire there. She asked if I would stand in for her as an international counselor, and answer a few questions about the profession as well as college. I had just arrived for a short visit in my former home of Oman, so was thrilled that I got to play any role at all.
What impressed me at the career fair was just how many different professions were represented in that room – and all were international careers. The students, who represented about 50 nationalities, were all eager to talk to the various professionals to find out more about “the world of work”.
In sum, here are the various professions represented at the fair. They included:
- Creative art director
- Creative director of fashion design
- Business consultant
- Advertising executive
- Environmental engineer
- Environmental health professional
- Family counselor/psychologist
- Marketing consultant
- Hair stylist
- Physical therapist
- Speech therapist
- Restaurant/hotel manager of major brand
- Soccer coach
- Magazine editor
- Yoga instructor
- Mechanical engineer
- Technical director
- Health and safety project manager
- Chemical engineer
- Orthopedic surgeon
- Oil and gas logistics
- International educator and university advisor
- Interior architect
- Radio announcer/producer
- College advisor/US non-governmental organization
- University professor
- Hospitality industry instructor/trainer
As you can see, there are a huge range of options for international careers. And this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the potential careers. In my 30 years of experience living overseas, I have met a lot of people working globally, and the conclusion I have come to is this. People who work overseas have found their passion, love what they do, are really good at it, and thus are in high demand to bring much needed professional expertise to a country. If the country doesn’t need it, then there isn’t a need to import the professional.
So my advice to students is this: follow your heart. Do what you love, be good at it, and maybe one day, you, too, will find yourself working on the international stage.