Career Corner: Participating in Professional Groups as a Job Search Strategy

As I write this I’m at the Association for Conflict Resolution conference in Tucson, Arizona. I’m an active member of this group, which puts on an annual meeting devoted to training and education, and promoting new approaches in the field of conflict resolution. My interest in international education is rooted in my commitment to nonviolent approaches to resolving differences. While on my Fulbright in Estonia, I taught conflict resolution and peace studies courses at the University of Tartu.

David J Smith — career coach, author, and Fulbrighter

We are all part of a field, academic discipline, or professional community of some nature. International education itself is a field, but likely your entry into it came from another area or interest. It was that first field that provided you with a professional identify and allowed you to learn and develop as a professional. Going overseas as a Fulbrighter was an extension of that, and possibly allowed you to move from seeing something in a more “domestic” context to what it might look like in a global way.

In looking for work, networking is critical, and being connected to others studying, researching, and working in your primary field is important. You can make a valuable contribution to a community because of your Fulbright experience. Most professional groups have sections or committees that look at the international aspects of the field. This is where you can engage.

What are the professional groups that you can be part of? How do they integrate or support international education? You might be unique to an association because of your Fulbright experience. When I was teaching in a community college, very few of my colleagues had participated in the Fulbright Program. As such, I was often sought out because of my experience, and was able to mentor others. This might be something you can do.

Networking and participating in groups is an essential strategy to career exploration. It is at these meetings and through these networks that you meet new colleagues who can provide you with insight and ideas for your career. In turn, you can provide others with advice and inspire them to pursue an international experience such as Fulbright.

In this way, your Fulbright experience not only opens doors for you but allows you to open doors for others.

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

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