General Assembly’s tech intensive experience combines tech skills and study abroad

General Assembly’s tech intensive experience combines tech skills and study abroad

International Education Jobs Study Abroad

Hot damn I love General Assembly. GA’s career accelerator courses appeal to the masses seeking a career change. They also have an option for university students who want to combine tech training with international experiences. Through GA’s tech intensive programs students can immerse themselves in tech communities in London or Sydney while exploring local culture and learning practical skills. It’s study abroad meets tech and it’s quite clever.

Study abroad shapes career paths. It also attracts the type of people that GA wants for their programs: curious, motivated and open to more than one way of solving problems. GA is on to something by offering an option to study abroad. Their programs remind me of the awesome work being done over at Sage Corps.

I can think of several student types who might benefit from GA’s tech immersive experience:

  • Liberal arts majors who want to add concrete skills to compliment their studies (hello user experience design!)
  • Business students who aim to work in tech post-graduation
  • STEM majors who want to work in another country and need a network
  • Student entrepreneurs who love tech and travel and see no practical options at their university
Study Abroad tech

Connecting culture and industry in the GA immersive experience

Study abroad tech

The programs aren’t cheap. But neither are university study abroad programs.

In the future I’d love to see a foreign language component added to the next location. Learn German while networking in Berlin’s startup community! Learn Swedish in Stockholm, the startup capital of Europe!  Language is the gateway to new ideas, impactful professional relationships, and ridiculous amounts of fun.

Throw in an adventure travel component and GA could really take these experiences to the next level. Imagine kayaking wild rivers with overnight camping or an afternoon spent Skydiving. Those experiences create bonds for life – professional and personal.

Overall, I’m definitely feeling these courses.

New skill development + career prep + international fun having times = Dreamy.


Start your international job search while studying abroad

Start your international job search while studying abroad

Jobs Networking Study Abroad

“I WANT TO WORK ABROAD!”  That was my overly-enthusiastic answer to everyone who asked about my study abroad experience when I returned. In response, my study abroad advisor talked about Peace Corps and teaching English as possible options. My mom suggested I get a job at a company in the US that would transfer me. My American friends shared words of encouragement and promises of meeting up for glorious expat parties. Everyone had ideas but nobody knew exactly how to turn my study abroad experience into an international career. It wasn’t until an Australian friend passed through my town and shared news of a job that later took me to Canada and New Zealand that I learned the truth: there’s no fast, direct path to an international career. Instead it’s more of a slow meander, with plenty of pauses for inquiry and conversation.

An international job search involves equal parts research and hustle, plus a dash of right place/right time luck. If your study abroad experience has you dreaming of the expat life, start your international job search during your time abroad. Here are 6 steps you can take during your time abroad to help you tackle the search.

Queen Bey of the Job Search

Step 1: Know what you’re good at
You international job search starts with knowing your skills. Employers don’t care that you love (insert your favorite country here). They don’t always care about your global mindset. They care about your skills. What can you do that other candidates can’t? What knowledge do you bring to a position? Knowing the answer is what will help you differentiate yourself in the job search. Try this exercise to figure out what you’re good at or research the skills required to work for the world’s most in demand employers and then match them to your own experience.

Master LinkedIn for International Careers

Step 2: Master LinkedIn
LinkedIn makes the international job search so much easier.  Learn how to use the alumni tool, create advanced searches with key words and set up saved job searches. You can also have a LinkedIn profile in more than one language, increasing your visibility to international recruiters.

Mind Blown

Step 3: Read all the jobs
The best advice I ever received came from a friend who read jobs as if she was reading the daily news. She told me to start reading jobs daily so I’d know how to position myself for international opportunities. Job posts give you all the information you need to better understand your target industry or company:

  • Skills: Do you have them? Take note of the skills you have to gauge how marketable you are in your field; if you don’t have the skills, figure out how to get them (MOOC’s, coding camps, volunteer projects, etc)
  • Language: When you write contacts or submit your resume/CV you need to use appropriate language for the industry and position. Use keywords gleaned from job posts to better articulate your goals, improve your LinkedIn profile, and include in your cover letter.
  • Additional information: Job postings often note where can you learn more about the company such as on LinkedIn and Twitter. Use information from these sources as the foundation for informational interview questions or to start conversations at networking events.

Cheers to Careers

Step 4: Keep up with your international friends lives
Sure you’ve shared bottles of wine and traveled to beautiful islands together. But your travel buddies have friends and family in the workforce (plus they’ll have jobs soon too). Don’t underestimate the power of your international network. They may be able to help you find a job. Stay friends on Facebook and find them on LinkedIn too. Check in with them and catch up on their lives and careers. Tell them you’re interested in pursuing a job in their country and ask them if they know any companies or people who hire international candidates.

Awkward Interviews

Step 5: Embrace the Informational Interview
Informational interviews are simply casual conversations with professional people. They also open up doors. I know a former student who had over 120 informational interviews with professionals to understand the employment opportunities in his target country and build his network (he got a job too). The goal of informational interviews is two-fold: learn the paths of people who were successful in landing their jobs and get advice. If all goes well your curiousity and willingness to learn about this person will impress them and they may refer you if a position opens up. Ask your host family, site director, professors, and/or friends if they know someone in your industry of interest who is willing to talk to you about their career path. Look up alumni from your school who are living in your host country. Spend 20 minutes talking with a contact and you’ll get insider knowledge about organization and insight into what employers look for in candidates. For outsiders (read: foreigners) this information is priceless as you’ll need to navigate an application and interview process filled with new cultural challenges. Bonus points if you can do the informational interview in the language of the country you are residing in.

Small Steps

Step 6: Start small 
Don’t start your international career search with a big-time, high stakes jobs in mind. It pays to start small. You won’t the big expat job like Director of Emergency Services relief for the Red Cross right out of college. Instead, search for entry level jobs at startups abroad. Find English tutoring projects. Or ask a local hostel if they need extra support. Seek out small opportunities to volunteer in your host country. Ask your site director if he or she needs help on extra projects like marketing, event planning, or logistical support for trips. Ask if they have a family member or friend who needs help with English tutoring. Small opportunities lead to bigger ones for people who have an open mind, cultural understanding and a solid work ethic.

Want help starting your global career? Sign up for the only career course for global graduates and learn how to build your global career. 

Eating all the foreign things

Eating all the foreign things

International students Study Abroad Travel

The first time I tried Ga-Jol, the salty licorice candy that Danes consume in massive amounts, I spit it right back out. My Danish friends laughed and accused me of wasting perfectly good candy. I protested, unable to rid my mouth of a taste similar to cough syrup mixed with dirt. It remains one of the worst things I’ve put in my mouth, right after the fish eyeball I tried in China. Danes, however, happily consume over 600 million of these candies a year. It’s their much beloved national candy.

My favorite part of living abroad is tasting (and commenting on) all the foods a culture treasures. So it’s a delight to see Buzzfeed has brought that experience to YouTube, minus the living abroad part. The series features people from one country trying snacks and meals from another country. It’s cross cultural exchange meets reality TV: cultural curiosity through food with exaggerated reactions for an entertaining effect.

Take a look. You might even find some of your favorite treats in here.

And it goes the other way too. Here are Americans sampling treats and food from across the world.

And of course, booze tasting!

Fluent City: The coolest way to learn a new language as an adult

Fluent City: The coolest way to learn a new language as an adult

International Education Language Study Abroad Travel

Last April at NYC Tech Day 2015, I stumbled on the language company Fluent City amidst a sea of tech and finance startups. I was positively giddy to find out they exist. As French major whose language exposure is now limited to foreign friend’s Facebook updates, Fluent City offers those who have relapsed in their language skills an easy way to reconnect with their old languages or start brand new ones. Imagine practicing your Spanish over wine and cheese pairings. Or learning Mandarin with a teacher cool enough to have a beer with after class. Fluent City teaches “old school in-person classes … taught in an awesome and refreshing new school way.” They bring together all the globally curious people for language learning and cultural celebration. They’re also probably the most fun you’ll have in language class.

I spoke with Mandy Menaker from Fluent City to learn more about all the ways they’re bringing language lovers together to celebrate culture!

What’s the difference between your language school and taking a course at a university?
Courses at the university level are usually quite formal. You may come away knowing the grammar but you don’t always come away with the vocabulary and the conversation skills that you need to travel. Our role is to enable our students to walk into a bar and buy someone a drink, ask where the bathroom is located, and figure out how to get to their hostel in a foreign language. They get conversation skills they actually need while hopefully not sounding like a foreigner while doing it.

As adults we don’t have that many opportunities to take language and culture classes.
Absolutely and that’s what so cool about this. With our classes you are introduced to culture while meeting like minded individuals in your neighborhood. You may come in with the idea of taking a class to meet people in Spain or France but when you’re here you’re meeting people that are interested in travel and culture who are looking to expand their horizons as well.

What are the language classes like?
Our classes are fun. We put personable, energetic, approachable teachers in front of our classroom. They are the kind of people you want to get a drink with after class. Our classes are about putting interesting people with interesting teaches so they can learn the language and do interesting things. We focus on making classes approachable. I think a lot of people have a fear of language because it seems scary. I’m not a language person because I’m terrible at it. But I love language and I’ve taken Spanish, Hebrew and I’m about to start Italian with my boyfriend. So if I can have fun with them, anyone can. We also structure the classes so they fit into your existing schedule. We have classes on weeknights and afterwork at convenient locations. We also have weekend options for flexible schedules.

What types of people try your classes?
We are open to anyone that is open to cultures. People take our classes for work because they want to use the language with their international clients. We’ve worked with the Red Cross in DC to help them communicate better with diverse communities. We even have couples who are marrying across cultures take our classes because they want to communicate better in the kitchen. They’re trying to impress in-laws. They’re meeting grandma for the first time and want to fit into the families. What’s so fun is that it’s not just open to travelers.

In addition to language classes you also offer events like international scavenger hunts, cooking classes, and film nights. Are you a language company or a cultural events company?
We are definitely a language company. The original owner is a Southern boy from Georgia who went to France and fell in love with it. He moved back to Brooklyn and wanted to be able to go to classes and share the culture. But there wasn’t really anything happening in the city that was fun. There were language classes but they were very structured and expensive. Since he spoke enough French he decided to teach his friends. He taught classes in his living room under the name “Sam Teaches French.” People loved it and starting asking if he offered other languages so he eventually brought on other teachers. There was so much interest that he had to move the classes of his living room and Fluent City in its current form was born.

language class brooklyn

Happy and relaxed language learners!

How are the languages incorporated into your cultural events?
We have cultural events, movie screenings, cooking classes, things that allow you to put your language skills to practice. Having a casual atmosphere helps you feel more comfortable. But more important than trying the language is that when classes go out together they really form a bond that helps them connect with each other. Students tend to stay with the program longer when they’ve connected with their classmates and teacher. We also have events in English. We offer a mix of both because we want students to practice their language but don’t want them to be excluded from events just because they don’t speak the language. We do panels with a focus on topics like how to start a travel blog, how to take your startup global, and how to volunteer abroad.

You offer Mandarin, Russian and Hebrew among others as language learning opportunities. How do you choose which languages to offer?
We started with French and Spanish because people take them in high school so they have a background in them. It’s intimidating to start something new as an adult. It’s easier to start a language that you know a bit about. They’re popular languages. But some people are the opposite and will purposefully pick Japanese because they want to start from the beginning and learn something new. We also did some surveys to find out what language people were into and now we offer 10 languages.

With so many options, where should a language lover start?
Our open houses are perfect for curious people and their friends. They offer a chance for people to experience our classes. We do a free 45-minute workshop with donuts and coffee and they’re a ton of fun. It’s often a mix of potential students and current students who are interested in a taking an additional language. People come out because who doesn’t want a free 45-minute language workshop and brunch!? I love running the open houses!

Browse language classes by location and learn more about Fluent City at

Sage Corps brings a major dose of global entrepreneurship to study abroad

Sage Corps brings a major dose of global entrepreneurship to study abroad

International Education Networking Study Abroad

This is the second post in a series exploring startups in international education for NAFSA 2015 week. Read the previous post here.

Ultimately I want to build a global community of students and entrepreneurs. Once you’re part of Sage Corps, you’re part of the community for life.

It’s not often you hear stories about American undergraduates devising go-to-market strategies for global startups in Argentina or translating slides for a fundraising pitch to Korean venture capitalists. But these are the stories coming out of Sage Corps, an experiential learning program that sends top US college students abroad to help entrepreneurs build companies. Students are immersing themselves in startup communities around the globe, trying new roles, applying their skills and gaining access to influential makers and leaders along the way. It’s transformative learning at its best and the most captivating new program in the international education space.

Founded by Matt Meltzer and located in Chicago’s thriving tech hub 1871, Sage Corps has been sending students abroad to work in global startups since summer 2013. And with 1871’s incredible network of co-working spaces around the world and Matt’s personal network, there is no shortage of startup projects for students: Working with 3D sensor technology in Buenos Aires. Developing next-gen baby monitors in Singapore. Creating sustainable housing in Singapore.

Yet the student experience doesn’t end after the 12 week program. When students return from abroad they are paired with a Sage, a global business leader – often a Vice President or higher – who is tasked with helping the student figure out how to leverage their experience abroad in a professional context.

Below I talk with Matt to learn more about immersive professional experiences abroad and what Sage Corps participants gain from this unique global experience.


What is the goal of Sage Corps?
We are really focused on teaching students global company building and global networking. That’s our two pronged mission for college students.

There are many places outside the US where the local consumer market is too small to support a robust startup community. So out of necessity someone who wants to create a business in those markets has to think globally from day one. That’s global company building. If you look at a place like Israel the local consumer market is tiny. So Israeli startups need to figure out how to sell products or services internationally, across markets, languages, and geographies. That’s a much different process than starting a company in NYC or LA. In the US you walk out your door and have access to a billion dollar market. But we think it’s increasingly important for students to understand how you build a global company as opposed to a local one. At Sage Corps students are learning how to sell a product that is made or developed in one continent and sold in another. They’re learning how to sell it to consumers in multiple languages and across time zones.

The idea of global networking is really based on the idea of expanding your professional network beyond just your local borders. We took our students to a networking event in Hong Kong last summer. One of our students approached a speaker who was from the local startup community, in ten minutes had a job offer, and then went to work for him. We had another student in Argentina and we took him to an investor conference. He connected with an entrepreneur who was moving his startup to Chile. They kept in touch and the following summer that student went down to work with them. There are real opportunities now especially with startups because they need the help.

How did Sage Corps start?
It started with my own personal experience having spent a year in South America, primarily in Argentina. I worked for a small early stage newspaper and I taught corporate executives to pay the bills. I was getting access to higher ups at multinational corporations. In the process I became fluent in Spanish. When I returned in 2004 I went to law school and was able to leverage my experience abroad into a niche practice representing Latin American companies. That was due in part because of my global work experience and the network I built overseas. So my idea is to help students open doors to form real professional relationships with people across borders.


What type of students participate in Sage Corps?
We are looking for students who are self selecting who want to do this. We have poetry and literature fanatics who work with startups on creating a narrative for their customers. We have comp science majors. We have huge opportunities for engineers and those on the business side. We have a mechanical engineering student going to Ireland who is building a sensor for a company that will purify and kill bacteria in the air. We have three mechanical engineers going to Singapore to build a prototype of a new baby monitor that’s placed underneath mattresses to detect the baby’s heartbeats.

The great thing about this is that there are no rules. Students are not pigeonholed into a department and given assignments. Students have the freedom to dabble in other areas. They may be at a startup for sales and marketing but if they want to learn how to fundraise, they have the freedom to do that. And CEOs think that’s amazing.

How does Sage Corps benefit student’s careers when they return? 
Our alumni have gone on to work at other startups, consulting firms, tech companies and even investment banking. The anecdotal feedback we get is that students are walking into interviews and recruiters are looking saying, “Wait a minute, you rolled out a market strategy while you were in South America? That’s amazing.” We’ve had incredible outcomes for our students. One student from Dartmouth came back, started a digital marketing company out of his dorm room and launched a student innovation center.

We tell students that if you go through this program with the right mindset and open yourself up, there will not be a job in any corner on the earth or professional opportunity that you would be scared to take on once you come out of this experience.

What’s next for Sage Corps?
We are rolling out part-time programming during the semester for the first time. So if you are studying abroad you can work with a startup 10-15 hours a week and join our event programming on the ground. It all takes place after hours so it doesn’t interfere with your studies. We aren’t looking to replace study abroad; quite the contrary. We are a niche opportunity to compliment student activities. We give you that immersive professional experience to compliment your study abroad experience. We are already working with University of Michigan business school and Illinois engineering school on that. We are obviously looking to connect with other schools who would be interested in offering this to their students who are studying abroad.

Learn more on the Sage Corps website and get connected with Sage Corps on Twitter


5.5  Ridiculously Easy Ways to Be a Standout Job Seeker at NAFSA 2015

5.5 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Be a Standout Job Seeker at NAFSA 2015

International Education Jobs Networking Study Abroad

1. Perfect Your Story
NAFSA is fast-paced and overflowing with interesting people. You never know who you may sit next to. Perfecting your professional story is such a key skill that all MBA students are required to learn it. Yet few job seekers outside of MBA programs put it to use. A little forethought and practice go a long way to standing out in someone’s mind. It may feel cheesy and awkward at first but the result is an articulate and genuine narrative that will leave you sounding professionally polished. So give it a try.

2. Go Beyond Passion 
Everyone at NAFSA has a passion for study abroad so don’t rely on a “passion for study abroad” to differentiate yourself. Instead, show off your knowledge and ideas. Start clever conversations by sharing your knowledge on global education trends. Get up to date on international education trends by reading a few articles on The Pie News, a fantastic site for all things international education. Ask other professionals how you think your ideas would fit into an organization you are targeting: new orientation ideas, recruiting strategies, creative advising approaches, awesome online marketing skills. By showing your interest and commitment to study abroad your passion will shine through on its own.

3. Work Twitter Like a Boss
I landed my first job in international education because the hiring manager saw my international education related tweets on Twitter.  You never know who is looking on Twitter. Change your bio to “NAFSA Job Seeker interested in ….” for the week. Plug your LinkedIn profile into the website link. Then engage with those who interest you on the #NAFSA15 hashtag: thought leaders, NAFSA speakers, study abroad providers, attendees who work at universities you’re interested in. Respond to their tweets, offer advice, or RT their comments. A favorite is a good way to get someone’s attention.

4. Treat the Expo Hall as a Career Fair
NAFSA makes it oh so easy to explore the hundreds of international education companies before you attend. Think beyond university positions and keep an open mind about jobs. Research the companies that interest you. Visit their booths and talk to their hosts. Ask “How did you get your job” or “What do you like about working for this company?” Inquire about open positions. If the conversation is going well, ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn to stay in touch in case future positions open up.

5. Speak Up
Even if you’re not working in study abroad you can always contribute a student or study abroad alumni perspective to session discussions. During Q&A’s people will often introduce themselves by name and title before asking their question. Do the same. “Hi, I’m Nicolle and I’m a job seeker interested in global career coaching, thanks for taking my question….” Then ask a smart question or offer a follow up comment on the topic. It’s an easy way to let the people know you’re on the market.

5.5 Join me at Networking without Pants (aka Creating Clever Conversations Online and Off) on May 26, 9:00 am to learn how to mingle your way through NAFSA! 

Want to work in Study Abroad? You need mad skills

Want to work in Study Abroad? You need mad skills

Jobs Study Abroad

In the NAFSA LinkedIn group, global graduates regularly seek advice on how to land a job in a university study abroad office. The questions often revolve around getting a master’s degree, a preferred qualification that graces nearly every job listing in international education. Some job seekers want to know if they should get one; others are frustrated because they obtained one yet can’t seem to break into the industry.

But here’s what’s missing from the discussion: a master’s degree isn’t enough. To land a job in international education you need mad skills.

Here’s what to show university employers you can do.

Manage all the things
Study abroad advisors are jugglers. They juggle events, students, meetings, emails, and paperwork. All of it requires exceptional management skills. You need to be an event manager to organize pre-departure orientations and study abroad fairs. You need to be a project manager to ensure the study abroad selection process is efficient and fair. You need to be a program manager to nurture relationships with partner schools and program participants. Your organizational skills must be fierce. But don’t just tell employers you’re organized. Show off previous events or programs you’ve managed to demonstrate you can handle the chaos like a champ.

Communicate your face off
Student advising requires excellent interpersonal communication skills. But here’s what they don’t tell you about working in study abroad: you spend a ridiculous amount of time on email. Your inbox will overflow with requests from students, outside departments, partner schools abroad, alumni, corporate partners, and board members. You need to build relationships with these diverse groups and it’s usually done over email. Can you craft emails that persuade, encourage, and inform? You also present to large groups of students so your public speaking skills need to be on point.

Entertain and engage distracted students
When you think international education you don’t think marketing. But in study abroad you constantly think of ways to get more students to participate in international programs. Whether persuading freshman to apply to your programs in two years or asking returned participants to volunteer at orientations, you have to find clever ways to reach students. If you can write engaging blog posts, manage a study abroad alumni email newsletter, or capture a lecture auditorium with snappy announcements, you’re well on your way to standing out in an interview.

Work a budget
Knowing how budgets work, how to build them, and how to work efficiently within one while still providing a quality experience for students is a stellar skill. Study tours, faculty-led programs, alumni events, and even orientations have budgets (often limited). Your boss will appreciate your ability to stay within it. Bonus if you can find ways to save money. Budget savvy study abroad advisors are exceptionally helpful for students who need advice on financial aid, which is always at the top of student minds.

Own the technology
Databases, social media accounts, content management systems, and learning management systems are part of the job. Can you build a blog post or page in WordPress or Drupal? Can you run a photo contest across social platforms? Do you pick up new database terms and queries quickly? Let your tech flag fly. Show your future employer how you’ve used the relevant technology creatively and efficiently in previous positions.

Above all you need to sell yourself. Learn how to create a narrative that summarizes your work experience. Don’t assume the hiring manager can figure it out. My checkered work history is chaos to hiring managers. I’ve worked at startups that don’t exist any more. I’ve had contract jobs under six months and more than a few that have nothing to do with study abroad. When I applied for a position in a university study abroad office I translated my odd work experiences into a compelling narrative that spelled out why I was uniquely qualified. It worked.

So be bold and direct. Don’t assume a master’s degree will do it for you. Articulate your skills as they relate to the job posting. Explain how those skills will benefit the team you want to join. Match your skills and experience directly to the language in the job posting. Reference your past work experience to explain how you’ll accomplish global programming tasks.

Here’s the TL;DR recap: To get a job in study abroad don’t rely on your master’s degree (or lack of). Focus on your skills and sell yourself instead. Show off your superior project management skills, exceptional communication skills, clever marketing experience, smart budget management skills and tech savvy ways.

Check out the new global career course for study abroad students. 

New Course for Study Abroad Students and Global Graduates

New Course for Study Abroad Students and Global Graduates

International Education Networking Study Abroad

When I first returned from study abroad I assumed employers would ask me all about my international experiences. They didn’t. The only time I was asked about my study abroad experience was when a hiring manager told me about her Italian honeymoon. We talked about gelato. I assumed I’d stand out in my search because of my study abroad experience. I assumed employers would inquire about my newly-developed problem-solving skills or ability to smart decisions in ambiguous situations from seeing my experience on the resume. But I didn’t stand out and employers rarely asked about my time abroad.

The lack of discussion was disappointing but it was not a one-off. I learned early on that I couldn’t assume employers knew the value of study abroad. Instead I learned to weave my global experiences and skills into a narrative that matched what employers wanted to hear and the job I was applying for.

Career Skills for Global Graduates is designed to teach study abroad students and alumni how to communicate their international experiences to future employers. Even better, students also learn how to build a framework towards a global career, one that includes a strong network and strategic evaluation of future global career opportunities.

In the two-part course, students:

  • Build a global career path
  • Identify employment that meets their academic and career goals
  • Build a professional network online and off
  • Conduct informational interviews
  • Examine future global opportunities ranging from teaching abroad to graduate school abroad to working internationally
  • Identify and articulate their international experiences and skills into the framework that employers understand

This course originated in 2011 from a 10 week virtual course I piloted with Foster School of Business undergraduates who were studying abroad. Students learned to network, conduct informational interviews, articulate their international experience, and identify companies that matched their career goals.

So take a look. And let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter.