Creating a University Culture of Global Education, Access and Presence

Posted by Wesley Thorne

In today’s higher education landscape more and more universities endeavor to become global institutions. But what exactly does this mean and how does the charge permeate throughout the institution? And what are the measures of accountability and outcomes? Perhaps it’s a commitment to having a geographically and culturally diverse student body. It could also be seen in offering a curriculum rich with opportunities to learn about subject matter on a global scale. Or a commitment to connecting students with experiences outside the United States. At GradConnection, we work with institutions across Europe, Asia and the United States, and we believe it’s all of the above. The university partners we serve and collaborate with all have something in common. Each has a sincere desire to serve as both educators and connectors. And this commitment is what truly inspires and drives our work.

Indeed, university career centers have a unique role to play in laying the groundwork for leading their campuses in fulfilling their global mission.

Expand student access

With positive record employment the US job market is robust and expanding across multiple key sectors like business services, healthcare and digital marketing. But how does this translate for international students? A robust 200,000 of them are slated to graduate from US institutions in 2019. But with only 65,000 new H1B visas available to Bachelor degree graduates and 20,000 for advanced degree holders, these students will likely face tremendous hurdles to employment if they do not expand their options.

Even in this strong labor market International students continue to face challenges. GradConnection recognizes this - which is why we have employer outreach teams in several countries that develop strong connections with top employers in countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East. They post their opportunities with us because of our vast and expanding partnerships with top universities. Our vast employer networks prefer hiring returning students and recent graduates because of the quality of their education, language fluency and experience thriving in a new culture.

GradConnection partner institutions have access to nearly 10,000 unique job postings that are not typically found in existing career management systems. And GradConnection system access is extended to alumni users free of charge.

Enhance staff access to new tools

Student usage data often shows that international students, as a demographic group, are heavy users of career services and resources. And when asked if they would be open to pursuing employment in their home country, the vast majority indicate they would. This is the sentiment we hear from our current partner schools. We also hear that career center staff appreciate having more tools to work with this population more effectively.

One of the most beneficial components of the newest version of the international jobs online system is the ability to fully operationalize it as a job search and learning resource. If a student did not receive an offer after attending a career fair or participating in on-campus interviews, they will often look to the career center for additional assistance. As students come in for appointments career center staff can use the system as a job search planning tool with them. In fact, staff can view how often a student is using the system to conduct a job search and how many applications have been initiated. In these situations, especially when a student could be feeling desperate or left with few options, the career advisor can pull up the jobs platform and instantly find 100 or more jobs or internships located in a student’s home country. These are opportunities for which the student can immediately apply. No longer will a student be faced with hearing “we don’t sponsor employment visas” from an employer. This can serve as a powerfully new narrative on campus and alter the misperception that career centers are ill prepared to assist international students.

Create new networks

Establishing a global culture at a university, as has been shown, is a multidimensional endeavor. It’s a comprehensive effort that goes well beyond providing resources. It requires leadership and intentionality. Career education leaders have a tremendous opportunity to lead their institution’s efforts to go beyond the surface and create international presence and networks. This past July GradConnection hosted its annual Career Summits in both Shanghai, China and Hong Kong. Over 40 university staff attended the summits and were able to obtain information on the growing Asian employment markets, network with local employers and gain useful insights on recruiting strategies and timelines. Many came away with a slew of business cards of employers that attended the GradConnection sponsored career fairs. What impressed me most about the summits was seeing career center staff essentially create their own new network of international employer contacts. Many career staff have already invited members of their new network to virtual programs and some have already on-boarded them to campus recruitment.

Speaking of expanding networks, certainly a benefit of connecting students and alumni to international employment is the potential to establish the institution’s alumni base overseas. Having a global alumni presence serves as a significant advantage. From an institutional perspective, building its global brand and support for future alumni who pursue opportunities in their home country will be a win-win.

Finally, shifting any culture will need support from academic colleagues. As career center leaders make gains supporting international student employment, acquiring new information on global job markets and expanding the university’s global network and presence – they should report out on their successes! Providing timely updates on your global engagement efforts to deans and senior academic officials is critical. Our custom system usage infographic reports can help shape a very positive narrative. All of these efforts can only serve to enhance your credibility among campus leaders.


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