Tim Nowak, Mizzou alumnus and Executive Director of the World Trade Center in St. Louis has spent his career building partnerships with businesses and governments all over the world. On a recent visit to Mizzou, he shared his insight on increasing student mobility and the necessity of preparing for a cross cultural career while you are in college. Below are some tips he shared to increase your global competitiveness.
Realize that global relevance requires global reach
In order to implement innovative and successful growth strategies, countries, businesses, and universities all over the globe must make a commitment to diversity. And as our world becomes more interconnected, more job opportunities will emerge. Much of this success rests on current and upcoming university students. Growing and implementing these global-sized strategies requires future graduates and leaders to be able to manage and effectively work with a growing global workforce. This is why it is essential to develop cross-cultural competencies. It is important to develop these skills now, but especially during your university years if you want to be competitive in the workforce.
Commit yourself to listening and learning
To increase your cultural competency you must commit yourself to listening and learning. Employers want people who are willing to travel, live, and work abroad. Great ways to prepare yourself are to learn new languages and study abroad while you are attending university. Language skills and experience abroad are becoming imperative as they are not only showing your willingness to learn and experience new ideas and cultures, but it keeps you competitive by providing you with hands-on-experience at living and learning in new environments.
Take study abroad and experiential learning opportunities seriously
While studying abroad is an essential first step, it does not stop there. As Nowak said “This is a unique four year time of your life to experience different cultures,” and it was one opportunity Nowak wished he would have taken more seriously. Take your study abroad experience seriously, get involved in experiential learning opportunities, participate in episodic volunteer opportunities like Mizzou’s Alternative Breaks program and use resources like Career Services for International Students to help prepare you for your chosen career. These are great chances to learn about your classmates who come from all over the world.
Live your dream, but take risks
This could be the most important tip of all. Mr. Nowak found himself in a great job at 29 years old. He had the chance to continue up the corporate ladder if he moved to his company’s new headquarters. You know what he did instead? He spent a year in an African tribe. He wrote to a friend, “I have no money, no job, no house, but this has been the best experience of my life.” He described his year in Africa as being the most transformational time in his life where he built a global mentality by “spending intentional time getting to know the culture and sub cultures.” And he emphasized that he is still learning, there is no end to the process. Today, Mr. Nowak is the Executive Director of the World Trade Center in St. Louis and one of eight Eisenhower Fellows, where he has traveled extensively throughout the world building relationships between Missouri businesses and the rest of the globe.
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