Microsoft sent me a job ad for a Program Manager, posted on LinkedIn.  I clicked through to read the description, and below that, they featured Microsoft employees and links to their LinkedIn pages. Thought this was a neat idea to highlight the people they hire.

14 of 15 had global experience!

Today the MS Alumni Association sent me their monthly email newsletter, with a “what they are doing now”, highlighting ten former MS staff.

  • 5 Americans had worked abroad
  • 3 were born abroad and came to the US as young adults to study or work
  • 2 studied abroad (full year or more)

All ten had global experience.

It’s a de facto requirement in tech that began in the 1990s.  Anyone thinking global skills are not critical today is stuck in the 1970s.

If you have any career aspirations at all – and definitely in tech, finance or marketing – you absolutely must develop international, global skills.

Nearly 100% of my past managers had extensive global experience (study abroad, work abroad, lived abroad, born abroad) and most of my peers had global experience. I was the odd one out, a point I am working to fix.

For several months I have sampled the names I see in the news (generally regarding tech or finance or business topics) and look them up on LinkedIn. Nearly 100% have extensive international experience including

  • Born abroad, grew up in one or more countries
  • Studied abroad or completed an entire degree abroad (typically more common with a Masters or PhD, depending on subject and country)
  • Worked abroad for several years

It is abundantly clear that anyone who is accomplished (today) has demonstrated global skills. This is not in dispute. It is today a mandatory requirement.

I hear from a few people, occasionally, who say international skills or travel are not important. And for a few careers that is true, and it was also true up until the 1990s. Since then, global experience is nearly a requirement for many job titles.

If you are in high school, begin investigating future options for foreign exchange programs, college study abroad programs, international internship options – and other ways you can develop global experience at a point in your career path (the very beginning!) where the experience will deliver you the greatest long term value!

By EdwardM