Job Seeker Blog

Old Habits, New Perspectives and Skills
Drs. Ron and Caryl KrannichWe live in more than just interesting times. These are rapidly changing times in which the jobs of yesterday may be poor predictors of the jobs of tomorrow. What course of international studies college students pursue today may ill-prepare them for the international job opportunities of tomorrow. In fact, in the 1960s and 1970s, international jobs for Americans were most likely found with government, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms specializing in problems of development in Third and Fourth World countries.

These institutions and organizations hired large numbers of international specialists with backgrounds in agriculture, economics, anthropology, linguistics, political science, and military intelligence. A government assistance-centered model of development resulted in government-to-government transfer of resources via such popular government organizations as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, and the United States Information Agency (USIA) and hundreds of contractors that helped carry out their missions. The U.S. Department of Defense and a multitude of government intelligence agencies-from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)-employed thousands of international specialists. Much of this concept of "international development" was rooted in an overall Cold War foreign policy effort to combat the threat of communism

Whether wrapped in the development theories enunciated by the U.S. Agency for International Development and its army of contractors or in the grassroots efforts of Peace Corps Volunteers, U.S. international development efforts were primarily nonmilitary responses to communism; their ultimate goal was to transfer economic benefits to peoples who might otherwise find an alternative path to development-revolutionary communism. Those who found jobs in these development organizations were most likely motivated by altruism rather than by a political consciousness aimed at combating communism.

How times have changed in the 1990s and as we move into the new millennium! Like it or not, we live in a new, yet ill-defined political and economic order. But a few things are certain. The old government-to-government transfer of resources approach to problems of development has fallen in disfavor with the ending of the Cold War and all its ideological underpinnings. Such an approach resulted in few cases of success; it tended to enhance corruption, strengthen government bureaucracies, and create dependency rather than increase self-sustaining capacity. The Peace Corps has been operating for nearly seven years in Russia, other former Soviet republics, and Eastern Europe where it demonstrates the virtues of small business development and entrepreneurism. The U.S. Information Agency was abolished by Congress in 1998 in a move to absorb its functions within the Department of State. The greatly downsized U.S. Agency for International Development, the ultimate oxymoron-under fire for achieving few measurable results- continues to transform itself into a force for promoting American-style business, entrepreneurism, and consumerism abroad under the reconstituted concept of "sustainable development." In the midst of all these changes, millions of people throughout the world still live in grinding poverty, experience wars and natural disasters, suffer from famine and pestilence, and lack basic sanitation, education, nutrition, and health services. Environmental degradation, accompanied with a failure of governments and businesses to manage natural resources, continues on a massive scale throughout the world. Child care, family planning, social welfare, and vocational services remain in great demand in the developing world.

While the name of the game today is still business-despite recent economic meltdowns in the developing world-the pressing needs of the international community go far beyond business. Never before have we witnessed such a major shift in international jobs from government and development to business and entrepreneurism. The evidence is everywhere. Take a quick survey of international airports or visit major hotels in New York, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, Prague, Istanbul, Moscow, Cairo, Rabat, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney, and Mexico City and you will quickly discover a new breed of international worker-young business people who are sourcing for new products or seeking new markets and trading partners for their products. Others possess high-tech engineering and communication skills required by businesses abroad. The airport and restaurant conversations are similar-establishing international operations and retaining and/or expanding market shares abroad

These are exciting, creative, and innovative times for those who have the right skills to function in today's new international employment arena. A San Francisco-based architectural firm designs a new condominium and resort complex in Thailand; they must meet with their Thai counterparts in Bangkok to finalize the plans and financial arrangements. Representatives of a leading fashion house in New York City meet in Manila to discuss their new fall line with their Philippine factory representatives. Lawyers from a Washington, DC law firm meet with their associates in Toyko about a pending court case against a South Korean electronics firm concerning international trademark violations. A computer software company representative based in Boston meets with its field staff in Hong Kong to discuss its failed marketing efforts in China. Representatives of Apple Computer and Mars Candy Company celebrate after opening their new offices in Vladivostok-a city once closed to outsiders. A Houston-based cellular phone company sends its representatives to New Delhi to survey the market potential for its products in South Asia. Meeting planners from Miami meet in Bali with hotel representatives to finalize plans for an upcoming conference in the expansive Nusa Dua hotel and convention complex. A graphic artist in Baltimore emails his design concepts for an advertising brochure to his client in Moscow. A Washington, DC-based contractor specializing in government finance spends three months in Hanoi installing the latest computer software for handling Vietnam's government financial system. They stay at the Metropole Hotel where they have breakfast with representatives of an international hotel chain who are finalizing plans with the Ministry of Finance to build a new 600-room, five-star hotel to accommodate the growing number of business travelers to Saigon. And thousands of other companies regularly communicate with their field operations, partners, and other international players via the Internet, telephone, fax, and video conferencing. The tremendous amount of traffic, conversations, and business transactions indicate that the global economy is well and alive despite its recent illness. Its wellness takes place in airports, hotels, and conference rooms as well as over the Internet.

Excerpted from "Jobs For People Who Love to Travel" and "International Jobs Directory" by Drs. Ron and Caryl Krannich. Impact Publications, 9104 Manassas Drive, Suite N, Manassas Park, VA 20111, Tel. 703-361-7300, Fax 703-335-9486, E-mail: college@impactpublications.com. Available through Impact's on-line career and travel bookstores: www.impactpublications.com and www.ishoparoundtheworld.com

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