Wanted: International Experience

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Kelly Eidson Kelly Eidson
In the weeks leading up to the launch of this blog, I have been talking to colleagues and fellow students about their career goals in the industry. Apart from the wanting to master the advertising universe here in the U.S., it seems that a lot of Millennials are looking to work abroad.

The motivation is that working abroad can help entry-level employees distinguish themselves in a crowded talent pool and gain international experience that can help them prepare for senior management of global brands in the future. Relocating to another country may seem like an extreme way to stand out, but more often than not it pays off. A stint overseas can help talent progress quickly and understand the challenges of global advertising in a tangible way.

None of this is new, but it seems that the option of going abroad is more attractive and more feasible for young people than it has been in the past. Some students have already made a move overseas. Consider that participation in study-abroad programs among American university students has more than doubled in the last ten years, according to a 2005 study by the Center for Global Educational Opportunities at University of Texas, and is at its highest rate in national history. Studying abroad gives students the confidence and motivation required to take a shot at a hot job in London or Dubai. It takes guts to move to another country and deal with visas and sponsorship, but recent graduates are not afraid of the process and do not view a year or two abroad as a radical move. In the past six months, I have watched fellow advertising students move to Australia, Spain, China, Switzerland, the U.K. and Brazil to work in the industry. The majority of them did not even have jobs when they left the states, but they all do now.

Advertising agencies with offices abroad have a leg up in recruiting young talent. Recent graduates and junior-level employees are looking for a way to move abroad before a mortgage and kids tie them down, and internationally networked agencies offer the chance for a smooth transition to the next step. If your organization can provide that opportunity, use it to your advantage, but be careful about promising too much. If there is one thing that has been widely reported about prospective Millennial talent, it's that we are a fickle bunch and will not hesitate to leave the first job for another one that can help us reach our goals faster. If you offer an international transfer, be prepared to follow through on it.

Incoming Millennial talent understands that the industry needs to adapt to the global communications economy, and they are eager to explore the reality of a flattening world. Do not be surprised to find that the best among us are already up to the challenge and actively pursuing a job abroad.
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