Meg VanderLaan of MWH Global and Allison Green of Otterbox are among a dozen local executives giving tips and career advice at the Second Annual “Speed Mentoring for International Careers” event Monday at CU-Boulder.
Meg VanderLaan and Allison Green bring personal insight to the question: Is international experience of high value to a student’s education and career?
The two local business executives will be among 12 mentors coaching students Monday at the Second Annual “Speed Mentoring for International Careers” event at CU Boulder sponsored by the Foundation for Global Scholars and CU’s Career Services.
“My study abroad experience and international work experience has absolutely made a difference when being considered by employers,” said Green, global brand planner, marketing, for OtterBox, a Fort Collins-based maker of cases and protective solutions for handheld devices. Green studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and also worked in London. “This experience makes me stand apart from my peers and really adds a level of dimension to my resume. It is always a point of interest during interviews and makes me a more well-rounded candidate.”
Likewise, VanderLaan, vice president of corporate communications for Broomfield-based wet infrastructure sector leader MWH Global Inc., says, “Since that first trip abroad, I have had so many wonderful opportunities to work internationally for my employers, and those experiences have benefitted me as well as the organizations that sponsored my travels.” VanderLaan went abroad for the first time in high school to complete a German language immersion program at the University of Salzburg in Austria. “My goal was to leave the program and have people speak German back to me when I spoke to them in German. That goal was achieved, but there was so much more. I learned about culture and languages, but mostly about relationships – making connections with other people and creating true understanding.”
Both Green and VanderLaan will bring this background into their speed mentoring sessions Monday as they help students plot their strategies for international study, internships and careers. They also offered a few tips:
- If international work is your goal, get experience living or working abroad as early as you can.
- Seek out companies that have international locations and make your goals known.
- Remain open-minded and do everything you can to experience the culture that you are in.
- Take advantage of traveling, even if you have to be creative with your budget.
Green says her studies and travels internationally really made a significant impression. “Meeting with a variety of people, seeing and experiencing true cultural diversity, testing my comfort zone and having the real learning take place in and out of the classroom is truly an irreplaceable part of my life.”
International experiences can also result in lifelong connections, both personally and professionally, VanderLaan says. She still maintains a strong relationship with her high-school pen pal in Germany and considers herself a part of her friend’s family. But even more so, her international experience early on helped prepare her future global work assignments at MWH Global, and the Gates Corp., a world leader in industrial and automotive solutions where she worked for 13 years.
“In a company that works across borders, team members with international experience help to generate ideas, drive change and connect people,” VanderLaan says. “By connecting people of different cultures and languages, individuals gain a certain kind of understanding that can only be achieved through international experience.”
For more information on the “Speed Mentoring for International Careers” event on Monday, April 29, at the Center for Community building on the CU-Boulder campus, click here.