Speed Dating, Career Forum Style

Story by Vonnie Tull | tulldevon@gmail.com

Photo by Yasmeen Al-Haj | alhaj.y@husky.neu.edu

On November 4th, Northeastern’s Raytheon Amphitheater hosted a Global Career Forum – inviting 16 professionals who represented companies from around the world, as well as over a hundred motivated and ambitious Northeastern students eager to learn about what it means to have a global career.

The Global Career Forum was nicknamed by one of its moderators “an information interview in a speed dating format”, and that’s exactly what it was. Students would join one of the visiting professionals at a round table (usually joined by 5-10 other students) and had the chance to spend twenty minutes talking to them, asking them questions, and getting a feel for what a career in a certain field would be like. This wasn’t a job fair – no one left the event with a career prospect – but students did leave with a better understanding of what a “global career” is, aside from the obvious state department and Peace Corps types of jobs.

The careers represented varied greatly, from a diplomat of the state department to a financial analyst for P&G to an international Security Analyst all the way home here at the Northeastern Police Department.

I sat down first with Jon Danilowicz, Diplomat In Residence (State Department).  There were about ten other students with me at the table. This was the first round, so there was some awkward silences before the conversation really got going, but once we broke the ice, I had an extremely enlightening discussion about what it is to be a Foreign Service Officer as well as options and advice for a career in the State Department. The piece of advice that stuck with me the most from him was to not be influenced by what might give me the best test scores on the Foreign Service Officer Test  – like learning a foreign language – but, rather, to do something I actually want to do so I don’t end up in a role I don’t like just for the sake of furthering my career.

Next, I talked to the Vice President of Global Operations at LDM Global, a litigation technology company. This was a less traditional of a “Global Career;” the company started out in England and branched out to the United States so, while the company is global, it isn’t exactly global in terms of what an international affairs student might be looking at like the Pease Corps or State Department. I had the chance learn about another person’s experiences working abroad and the reality of travelling for several months every year, which is something important for everyone looking into global careers to consider.

My last conversation was with Bob Stains, Jr., Senior Vice President for Training at Public Conversations, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting constructive conversations and relationships among those who have differing values, world views, and positions related to divisive public issues. The company started out in the U.S. and went abroad mostly by necessity because they found other areas were in need of their type of services.  Bob talked about how important it was to acknowledge cultural ticks that can make or break communication, things as small as pointing your feet at someone. This is another lesson that is invaluable to anyone on the search for a global career.

I walked away from these discussions with a different idea of what a global career is and what my future could look like. While attending these types of information-centered events may not lead to job offers, I would highly recommend students to look into them to learn more details about the fields they are interested in.