There’s two new posts on our new blog (please update your bookmarks/feeds!):
Today, we’re going to get personal. I’m going to tell you how I got my job—and how it may help you get yours.
We decided to switch our blog over to Wordpress. We’ll cross-post a link to our posts though, for a while. Please update your bookmarks!
New site: http://newcollegecce.wordpress.com
RSS feed: http://newcollegecce.wordpress.com/feed/
(Starting next semester, we’re having two students who are studying abroad blogging for us! Today, we’re introducing our second blogger: Dorothea Trotter.)
My name is Dorothea Trotter and I am a second year student with an area of concentration in English, German, and Russian literature. I was brought up as a dual citizen of Germany and the USA, so that put me in a pretty unique situation when it came to the possibilities in studying abroad. I was lucky to be exposed to two cultures throughout my childhood, and I think that it made me a more tolerant and curious person of the world and different cultures.
While I am fluent in German, I never really learned it on an academic level. I may want to go to graduate school in Germany, but I want to test it out for a year first. Even the advanced German course taught at New College by great professors could not replace the benefits of full immersion. So I am taking advantage of free university education for German citizens and applied to the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, where I will spend the spring semester of my third year.
When picking a location to study abroad, I wanted to go somewhere that I knew the language, so that I can take courses offered in the language. I could have gone to Russia, but I decided to go somewhere that I knew at least a little. It is difficult enough to spend four months in a new place without having to land like an astronaut on Mars. Plus, being in Germany puts me at least on the same land mass as Russia. I’ve already checked out flights to Moscow from Berlin, and I could go for less than 30 Euro. So we’ll see!
(Starting next semester, we’re having two students who are studying abroad blogging for us! Today, we’re introducing one of them: Anna Lewis.)
What’s your name and what year are you?
My name is Anna Lewis and this I am coming to the end of my second year at New College, and my third year in college overall.
What’s your concentration?
As this is my fifth contract, I just had to declare my Area of Concentration last month. I am a Chinese Language and Culture A.O.C.
How did you decide to study abroad? What was important to you when picking the place?
I decided to study abroad because I wanted to gain access to more courses. I was also curious about the campus life at a larger school. When I was looking through schools in the N.S.E. program, I looked for schools that had a large department in my area of interest, namely Asian Studies. The N.S.E. website made it more convenient by allowing you to search through the schools by majors available, and I also visited the schools’ websites to look at the size and credentials of the staff in the departments I was interested in.
What do you hope to gain from it?
Well, specifically, I hope to learn Japanese next year. More generally, I am looking forward to having access to more classes and faculty in my discipline, and also a larger library, which will hopefully allow me to do some research in preparation for my thesis fourth year.
There’s no question international experience is prized in today’s job market. However, it’s not easy. It can take years to get the appropriate visas, hard to break into appropriate career paths, and once you’ve broken in, the work environments are very different from what you’re used to. It can be a struggle in your day-to-day life, too. (I have some personal experience with this: in 2007, I moved to England to get my master’s degree and was employed by a British company before I moved back in 2009.)
If you want to go abroad for the long-term, here’s what you must ask yourself:
1. What will it add to your career?
Many people who end up living abroad long-term do jobs that are tangentially related to their planned career. (The most obvious example of this is teaching English abroad.) How can you relate what you learn there to what you want to do later? If you want to be a teacher or in an internationally-focused position, this is easy; if you want to be a stock trader, it’s not so obvious. In five years, will you even list it on your resume?
2. Can you deal with constant change?
Before you go, you need to know if you can handle constant change, particularly in your immigration status and your future plans for staying. Many outside factors can change your day-to-day life and you won’t have a say in it.
When I was in school, foreigners pursuing master’s-level education in the UK were able to obtain a two-year work permit after graduation. However, with the dissolution of the Brown government and the election of the Tories in 2010, this visa was eliminated by the government for fear of illegal immigration and replaced with one based on income level.
You need to know if you want to handle things like this. Governmental change–democratic change or even a coup–can alter all your plans. Will you be motivated enough to figure out a way to stay?
3. Do you mind being The Other?
Depending on the color of your skin and where you live, you can be seen as The Other right away. However, if you decide to live in a place where you don’t look different from its inhabitants, you’ll be able to blend in—until you open your mouth, that is.
Do you want to be seen as automatically different? Are you comfortable with always being asked about your home country and its current politics? Do you want to tell people how you moved there and what you like about your new country all the time? These things will happen; the question is whether you want to deal with them.
4. Will you like it when the novelty wears off?
In my opinion, this is the most important question you should consider. When you first arrive, everything is new, novel, and charming. However, after a few months of day-to-day life, the charm can wear off fast.
You’ll be paid at your position, but will you be paid well? Will it be enough to be able to travel the region and go out on weekends, or will it be enough to just make rent? Do you want to schlep down to the market every day and carry 20 pounds of groceries back, because it’s just the way things are done? Do you want to watch TV and not get half the jokes? Do you want to pay your internet bill but first you have to prove your identity to the bank and you can only do that by getting your birth certificate sent from home and it takes three weeks and meanwhile how are you going pay your bill?
Certainly, you could do all of these things. People do them every day.
The real question is—do you want to?
Personal branding is a hot topic in the career world. Many career experts, like Dan Schawbel, say that it can get you the perfect job, raise your profile, and make the next step in your career that much easier. So, what is it and how do you do it effectively?
The notion of personal branding is fairly simple: it’s selling the idea of yourself as an expert in your chosen field. In some ways, it’s similar to what you write on resumes and CVs, tailoring them to sell yourself as the right fit for the position. However, there’s a few things you have to figure out before you make it your mission to build your brand.
1. Figure out your niche.
One of the best ways to figure this out is to directly relate it to your career. What are your values? What’s important to you? What would you like to do?
Let’s think about a student who has found he has three major interests: nonprofits, technology, and writing. (We’ll call him Dave.) Dave can easily combine these three things into one personal brand. It’s important to know what he wants to do with this, though. Does he want to work in the technology side of nonprofits? Or does he want to become an internet marketing guru specializing in the nonprofit sector? Figure out what you want to do with your brand and it will be more successful.
2. Figure out how you’ll do it.
So, Dave has established that he wants to be known for his knowledge of technology when it comes to the nonprofit sector. How should he get this out? If he enjoys writing, he could start a blog focused around this specific topic. He could publicize it through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, but also find similar blogs, such as the Nonprofit Technology Network or the TechSoup Community, and follow and contribute to them. He could also design special business cards to distribute when he’s in the community doing person-to-person networking. Building your personal brand is both on and offline challenge.
3. Figure out how to maintain it.
Personal branding doesn’t happen overnight: you have to establish yourself as knowledgeable in your field before people see you as an expert. However, once Dave is known for his expertise in nonprofit technology, it’s important to maintain that expertise or to broaden it. It would be important for Dave to keep up with the newest trends in nonprofit technology, like Google for Nonprofits, and how it could change or enhance the nonprofit technology sector, expressing his opinion through his brand platform.
Establishing yourself as an expert in any field takes effort and time. However, it can be invaluable for your career and it’s easier than ever before with the availability of information on the internet.
Would you ever build your own personal brand? What would you build?
Have a question about your career? No idea what you’re going to do after graduation and want some help? Leave a comment here or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer question you may have!
By the way, we’ll be talking about personal branding tomorrow. Don’t know what it is or what you can do to achieve it? Come back tomorrow to find out!
So, just how much of a pain is it to study abroad?
The great thing about New College is that you have a lot of academic freedom. When it comes to studying abroad, the bad thing about New College is that you have a lot of academic freedom. You can choose almost any academic program—come see us before you apply though, just to make sure!—and with your sponsor’s approval, your credit should transfer back.
The number one thing you need to look out for, however, is scheduling your time off-campus well. If you’re in a discipline that has a lot of required classes, find out what the planned course schedule will be from the professors in that discipline. Schedule your semester off-campus during that time.
Plan well and wisely and it becomes easy to study abroad.
(We had this question in our study abroad & careers lecture on Wednesday and it definitely deserves to be answered in a bigger forum!)