International Career Development Seminar held to inspire community

The walls were filled with posters from international organizations, the tables were filled with students from colleges and high schools and the day was filled with talks from speakers in a vast variety of areas. It was difficult to leave without a new perspective on the world. On Sat., Oct. 25, Sudakoff hosted the 5th annual International Career Development Seminar.

“The whole point of the seminar is to bring in people from a variety of backgrounds in the international arena to talk to students about how they prepare for and get into those [global] careers,” Director of International Studies and Professor of Political Science Barbara Hicks said.

All the speakers volunteered to participate, which means they donate their day and their travel for the event without getting paid at all.

“The idea is to bring in different people with a range of experiences,” Hicks said. “We always have somebody from the Foreign Service, we always have someone from the Peace Corps and we always have somebody from the United Nations (UN). Everybody else varies.” This year emphasized international education and media with appearances from environmental science and law and the military.

The first speaker, U.S. Senior Foreign Service Department of State career member and Diplomat-in-Residence Edward Loo, poignantly told the crowd that with his career he did not just read the history books; he was a part of them. A short video preceded an explanation of Foreign Service officer requirements, a field that encourages democracy, prosperity and security around the world.

Next was Robin Groelle, a U.S. and international college counselor who went on to direct counseling programs globally. Groelle motivated students to drop by their schools’ career offices to create a four-year plan early on. It is all about initiative.

“I encourage you to step out of your comfort zones because that is where you’ll find your greatest successes,” Groelle said.

Attorney Gene Jones from the U.S. Professional and Voluntary Military, also the founder of Florida Veterans for Common Sense, spoke on thinking through the decision to join the military. Afterwards, Jeraldine Williams, a journalist, author and attorney, presented her journalism background that spans 54 years and includes extensive work in South Africa. She also mentioned the broad scope of journalism, but also assured that anyone can find a place within it.

“Today it’s blogging, tomorrow it’ll be… you tell me,” Williams said.

Catalina Kaiyoorawongs, Director of Education Initiatives at Sarasota’s UnidosNow, gave a riveting presentation on the U.S. Peace Corps and on her experience in Guatemala. An expert on international education, particularly with refugees, Dr. Jody McBrien has traveled to approximately 40 countries and six continents.

“It won’t happen if you don’t pursue it,” McBrien said.

“Work on what you’re good and what you want to do,” Director of the Marine Policy Institute at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium Barbara Lausche, J.D. said during her talk that presented tips to honing in on an international career.

Amy Pettengill, from Ringling School of Art and Design, serves as the Director of International Student Affairs. She spoke about the transformative nature of study abroad. Lastly, John Ericson, Chief of the Outreach Unit in the Office of Human Resources Management of the UN Secretariat, joined the seminar for the fifth year in a row.

“UN puts you in the middle of history,” Ericson said, who spent time in the former Yugoslavia and Cambodia during UN peacekeeping operations, among numerous other places. “Our work touches in every corner of the globe.”

All the presentations repeatedly highlighted language training, specifically at a young age, and a wide, varied course load.

Dorothy Watson, First Vice President and Former President of the United Nations Associations Sarasota-Manatee chapter and Hicks’ co-chair for the seminar, proposed the idea five years ago because she saw a need for it in the community.

“This is not for just New College students, this is for all college and high school students, but we have a hard time getting high schools and colleges to get the information and mobilize the students,” Hicks said. However, the seminar is growing. Five years ago it only had five speakers, and this year it had nine.

“We can’t fit anymore,” Hicks continued.

The International Career Development Seminar is an event all students should attend because, no matter what area of interest, there is a global position for everyone.

“I do think this is rather rare. We have been told that we should take this on the road, because people aren’t doing this enough, from a lot of the speakers who’ve come. That’s one of the reasons I feel sometimes frustrated that not more people in the community and sometimes not more New College students aren’t taking advantage of it,” Hicks said. “[It is] A – rare that you have it, B – that it’s free, C – that it’s right across the plaza from the dorms and D – it has free food.”

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