The business leaders who will have the greatest success in the years ahead are those who understand the increasingly global nature of the business world.
You can start preparing yourself while you are still a student for international success.
Attend a Top-Rated Program
For your bachelor’s and, even more importantly, for your MBA, it’s worth your while to get into the most prestigious program possible. The contacts you make in business school are invaluable. Higher-end schools may mean higher costs, and while you might be able to pay for your classes in part through scholarships, grants and savings, you may also want to check out this company to look into taking out student loans. Your projected income as a global business leader means you can afford to take on these loans, and there are strategies for paying them back more quickly if that concerns you.
Get International Experience
Take advantage of the opportunity to both study and work abroad. You may be able to enroll through your school in an overseas university. Another option is direct enrollment in a university in another country. Your school’s study abroad program should be able to help point you to some options. If you are a student, a recent graduate or under the age of 30, you may be eligible for what is sometimes called a working holiday visa to work on a temporary basis in certain other countries. This can be an excellent way to get international experience on your resume.
Learn Another Language
Learning another language doesn’t just demonstrate the depth of your commitment to becoming an international leader. It can significantly affect your understanding of another culture and help you better understand additional foreign languages even if you never become fluent in them. It also demonstrates your willingness to learn an additional language and to integrate into a new culture when necessary. The best language for you to learn may vary depending on your industry, and you may end up in a job that requires you to learn a new one. The precise language that you choose at first matters less than the skills you’ll develop and the initiative you show.
Understand Cultural Challenges
Getting international experience will help you with this, but it’s also important to specifically study and understand cross-cultural communication. Many things you may consider self-evident have a cultural component, and people in different countries may have very different ideas about how to conduct business negotiations. For example, some may seem to be far less direct that what you may be accustomed to.
Develop the Right Soft Skills
Flexibility, adaptability and curiosity are among the skills that will be critical to your success in international business. Being a good communicator is also important, but what constitutes good communication varies between cultures, and being sensitive to these differences will be just as crucial. Similarly, networking is important, but how you network effectively will also differ in other countries. As a natural consequence of all of these skills, you’ll also develop the important ability to think strategically in a global sense.