Investing in Your Future Career in a Global Economy

8 Aug

Annette Benson, Communication Strategist – Purdue Center for Intercultural Learning

Recently, a student wrote to Purdue Confidential:

I’m a…student who has been on campus for a full year now, and, although I’ve made a lot of friends, most of them are from my same ethnic group. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a pretty outgoing guy; I like to meet new people and make friends, but I just can’t seem to bridge the gap and make more…friends. I do have some acquaintances I made through my classes, but we don’t really chill like I do with my other friends who are from the same ethnic group as me.

Intercultural Learning.jpg

When Purdue students begin their college career, it seems like four years will stretch on forever, but the college years actually go by relatively quickly. Before students know it, the time is up, and some goals were not reached. It is easy to miss out on creating intercultural friendships during the college years, and then, when it is time to work in a diverse workforce, regret sets in as graduates realize how valuable intercultural knowledge is to working in a global economy.

With the start of a new school year, let’s review some opportunities to strengthen intercultural knowledge and friendships here on the Purdue campus:

The Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment and Research (CILMAR) (https://www.purdue.edu/IPPU/CILMAR/) offers a variety of learning opportunities for students to interact across difference:

  • Boiler OUT!—A cohort of 200 students, this program overseen by Carrie Anne Thomas, gives back to the Greater Lafayette community by performing acts of service and gives students from many different countries the opportunity to work side by side.
  • International Friendship Program (IFP)—Matching 600+ students a year with area families, Beth Tucker provides the opportunity for international students to learn more about the Greater Lafayette Area. Lest domestic students feel left out, Beth can also give valuable advice for how domestic students can reach out to international students, especially at the holidays./
  • One Community Grant—Providing up to $2500 to student organizations who provide a concrete plan for how they intend to co-create a program with a student organization different than themselves, the OCG is overseen by Leighton Buntain in the CILMAR office, along with colleagues from Purdue diversity centers.
  • Intercultural Certifications—Giving students the opportunity to improve their intercultural attitudes, skills, and knowledge, the CILMAR certificate programs are theme-based around leadership, community building, career enhancement, and integration.
  • Classroom Presentations—Intercultural specialists show up across campus to provide interactive and thought-provoking academic presentations.

Besides CILMAR, other opportunities for intercultural interaction can be acquired by taking part in activities offered by:

  • Diversity CentersThe Black Cultural Center, the Latino Cultural Center, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center, and the LGBTQ Center all are welcoming, inclusive places waiting to greet you, regardless of your identity.
  • University Residences Global—Beginning its seventh year of providing intercultural opportunities for students living within the residence halls, UR Global, under the direction of Wilfrido Cruz–offers a variety of outings with intercultural friends to learn more about our campus, the Greater Lafayette Area, and Indiana.
  • Boiler Gold Rush and Boiler Gold Rush International—Both of these fun and exciting programs overseen by the Student Success professional and student staff offer countless opportunities to reach out across difference from the first day of a student’s life on campus.
  • Diversity offices within the colleges—Every college has professional diversity and inclusion staff ready to assist students who want to get involved in intercultural learning within an academic or social setting.

Why should you invest in intercultural learning?

  • Intercultural friendships can be more challenging and rewarding than other friendships as students learn to negotiate difference in real world settings.
  • The career pay off can be enormous as alumni will be able to prove to employers that they are the candidates ready to succeed because they not only understand difference but celebrate it.

Our best intercultural investment advice: Before having a career and salary on the line, begin investing in your career capital today by learning the skills you need to succeed in a global economy while still in college.

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