How to Launch Your International Career: A Review of Stacie Berdan’s GoGlobal!

If you’ve ever dreamed of building an international career, you must read Stacie Berdan’s Go Global! Launching an International Career Here or Abroad. I found myself nodding and smiling throughout this concise, convenient eBook.

Stacie draws from her own experience to give practical, step-by-step advice. She worked for a top global public relations firm in Hong Kong for many years, during which she gained the skills and experience to skip several levels on the corporate ladder. This is her second book about international careers. Her first book, Get Ahead By Going Abroad: A Woman’s Guide to Fast-Track Career Success, was published in 2007.

(And GoGlobal is only five bucks! That’s the price of one cocktail in a college bar! Consider it a cocktail with Stacie Berdan and her network of international professionals.)

Some of my favorite tidbits from GoGlobal!: 

  • You can launch an international career at home. You don’t have to move to another country, since the modern world of work is packed with international connections.
  • Take an honest look at your own personality, to make sure you’re ready for the cross-cultural challenges of working in an international environment. To build your global mindset, study foreign languages, read foreign news, and watch movies from other countries.
  • Avoid taking on debt. Debt limits your career options, at home or overseas. There are many ways to gain global experience without going into debt.
  • As you prepare to apply for international jobs, begin by defining your global brand. From this you can craft an elevator pitch, cover letter, resume and online presence. I particularly like Stacie’s sequential, non-intimidating process, and suggestion to begin a resume with a Qualifications section that describes your value proposition and 4-5 memorable bullet points.
  • Dismal events can lead to career opportunities. Uprisings in the Middle East led to  new opportunities for communications firms like Twitter. The tsunami in Japan created new opportunities for construction firms. Both good news and bad news influence the international job market.

The book is packed with links to YouTube videos, personal anecdotes from about a dozen internationally-minded folks ranging from students to top executives, and invitations to email Stacie Berdan directly.

The book’s final chapter, “Navigating the Pathways to China,” is by Rebecca Weiner, who has 27 years of experience as a “Zhongguotong” (China hand.) Rebecca describes China’s bifurcated job market, which has plenty of entry-level opportunities to teach English and gain experience as a young professional, and plenty of jobs for experienced managers (some of which include drivers and villas, the “full expat package”) but fewer choices for mid-level professionals.

Rebecca encourages anyone who aspires to work in China to:

  • work hard and be ready to learn, adjust, and reflect
  • differentiate yourself by emphasizing your creativity and innovation (these are obsessions of modern Chinese corporate culture, and they are not at all emphasized in the Chinese educational system)
  • meet other expats, but don’t exclusively hang out with them
  • and more!

I especially recommend this book because it outlines many of the steps I have taken in my own career.

I majored in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. As part of my degree, I studied abroad in Chile for a full year. This program gave me the opportunity to intern with a microfinance non-profit and volunteer in a shantytown library. All my classes were 100% in Spanish.

When I graduated in 2006, I decided to move to China to teach English at a university in Jiaxing, a “small town” of a million people near Shanghai. This has been by far the most random decision of my life. Within three months, with no specialized training, I transformed myself from a student of Latin America to a teacher in China. I enjoyed leading debates and skits in the classroom, and I think I learned more from my students than they did from me. Over the next four years, I worked in a wide range of industries in Shanghai and Beijing — advertising, consulting, corporate social responsibility, marketing, and more — all while learning Chinese.

In mid-2011 I was ready to revisit my interest in Latin America, and I found a wonderful opportunity. I moved to Chile in July of 2011 to join a solar energy startup and participate in Start-Up Chile, an entrepreneurship program sponsored by the Chilean government. Alongside this solar energy project, I have recently launched my own China-Chile-California consultancy, Tricontinental Advisors.

I mention all of this to show you that it IS possible to build an international career. It all starts with developing a global mindset, learning foreign languages, and figuring out how you, with your unique skills and interests, can best contribute to the global marketplace.

And the best place to begin is by reading Stacie Berdan’s GoGlobal! Launching an International Career Here or Abroad. Download it today!

Leslie Forman

Leslie Forman writes about China, Chile, and curiosity at Beyond Chile's Single Story. She has recently launched Tricontinental Advisors to connect entrepreneurs in Chile with China and California, particularly in the areas of translation, training, trade, and tourism. Follow her on Twitter: @leslieforman.