Lipscomb University has an international presence. With current students from more than 50 countries and alumni living, working, and studying abroad, the institution has a global impact.
On Oct. 22, students caught a glimpse of what a cross-cultural career would look like through the International Career Panel, sponsored by the Lipscomb History, Politics, and Philosophy Department and by the Tennessee World Affairs Council.
The event takes place each semester and is moderated by Dr. Susan Haynes, board member of the Tennessee World Affairs Council and an assistant professor of political science at Lipscomb.
Panelists this semester included Catherine Moore, an international human rights and humanitarian lawyer, Stephanie Shackelford, the Principle of SoJourn Strategic, Courtney Stewart, a Lipscomb alumna and former Fulbright Scholar, Special Agent Todd Hudson of the United States Secret Service and Logan Monday, a former Peace Corps volunteer.
For the benefit of the students, Dr. Haynes started the discussion by asking if as college students, the panelists knew what their careers would be. The response was a unanimous “no.”
For Shackleford, it wasn’t until she was 35 years old that she learned of her current career which has since taken her to South Sudan, Somaliland, Uganda and Ukraine.
Moore graduated with a degree in Romance Languages, a diploma that did not lead to a specific career, but gave her the opportunity to explore until she fell in love with law and continued her education in that vein. Now she works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the country.
Special Agent Hudson encouraged students not to worry too much about their career and to instead study and concentrate on the topics they enjoy. “There is a plan in place, it just might not be your plan at the time,” said Hudson.
What the panelists did recommend to students was to learn a foreign language, say yes to opportunities, and not wait to apply for programs.
“Do not wait until you are perfect to apply,” said Monday who taught English as a second language in South Korea before serving in Macedonia with the Peace Corps. There were several years after his time in South Korea where Monday felt he wasn't prepared for another international adventure, hesitation he now regrets.
While the panelists were happy to share the joy they found in working internationally, they also warned the audience of its difficulties.
Shackleford said a young professional must “bust your butt” in entry-level positions and often work long hours. Moore agreed that work-life balance is difficult to maintain, “once you’re in the field, you’re in the field,” she said.
Yet the benefits of a global experience are worth any challenge.
As the only American in a small town in Spain Stewart had to knock down many cultural and mental barriers, but the relationships she made were worth every obstacle.
Moore said in agreement, “the best thing about it is making friends with people all around the world.”
The end of the session provided space for students to ask questions and obtain contact information from the panelists for continued conversations. The International Career Panel is just one way that Lipscomb University is preparing students for successful careers that, for some, may take them across the planet.