As today’s business environment seems to change rapidly, one of the most valuable attributes to a young professional’s resume includes some form of global experience. As a business student at North Carolina State University, I have limited travel experiences (and an empty passport), compared with some of my peers. But it seems I'm not alone.
And I know that doing nothing but traveling the world is rather impossible for a new college graduate who must pay off loans, work long hours, and learn proper “adulting” skills. However, I wonder, is it possible for one to see the world without ACTUALLY traveling the world?
My International Experience
Upon entering my final semester of undergraduate work, it's natural to look back on all of my college experiences and all that I have learned from them. One experience, in particular, stands out. Just last semester in my Market Research class, the students were divided into groups according to our last names. I knew nobody ... at first. What I learned, those, was that José was from Ecuador, Laurie was from France, and Jacobo was from Spain. Being that my personal global experience had been somewhat limited up to that point, I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited by the idea that I could be exposed to some new experiences without taking out my passport.
I was teamed up with this group for the entire semester, and my experience working with all three of them was inspirational. While I brought zero language skills to the group, José, Laurie, and Jacobo were perfectly fluent in English. They were intelligent and curious, and culturally aware and conscious. During long working nights and sporadic group meetings, they shared stories with me about their friends and family back home, about their summer plans, and about attending college in a foreign country. I really got to know them on a personal level, and it was incredible to see how four vastly different people, really weren't that different at all. It made this huge world feel much smaller and more personal.
I got lucky (mostly because of my last name) getting paired up with the team I did. But there are many ways to gain global experience without traveling. For example, more than 13% of people currently living in the U.S. were born in a different country. This is an enormous opportunity for all of use to build cross-cultural relationships. Talk to people, get to know someone new -- this is especially easy for students who are on university campuses and have access to various communities and peers.
In addition, my experience here at Bluespark has also put this “glocal” idea in motion. With colleagues from various countries including Ecuador, Spain, and Canada, it makes the world feel a bit smaller, as well. I am able to communicate over video with someone who is physically located thousands of miles away ... and it only takes an instant.
Bluespark has structured their employees so that our “offices” are anywhere we’d like them to be, like in coffee shops (within biking distance, of course), home, or in my case, my college dorm room. There are daily meetings in the conference room (Google Meet) and side conversations by the water cooler (HipChat), just like any other business office in the world.
My key takeaway for a young professional here is simple; work for a global company. And “global” does not have to mean “gigantic.” Bluespark has 23 employees, and still offers experience from over eight countries.
Through my entire collegiate experience I have come to learn that so many global perspectives are already woven into my life on a daily basis, many more than I ever believed. These perspectives and exposures have inspired me and sparked a great curiosity in me to truly see the world.
So to answer my own question, “is it possible for one to see the world without actually traveling the world?” Yes, I think so .
For example, I’ve seen the world through other peoples’ eyes via their personal anecdotes and stories, and I’ve seen the world through a laptop screen and webcam. With that being said, it’s now time for me to see the world with my own eyes. So as I count down the days to graduation in May, I have almost finished planning my first visit to Europe coming this July.
No matter the circumstances or restrictions, I believe it's important to try and gain some type of global experience or exposure -- access the world through whatever ways you can (and there are many).
Now, I'm looking forward to actually getting that first passport stamp.