Why Intercultural Communication Skills Matter Now

Globalization is a hot topic in this year’s presidential election. As candidates discuss the pros and cons of globalization’s effects on business and enterprise in the U.S., it is clear that the next administration will have to address new challenges related to the globalization of economies. However, addressing globalization’s impact is not just the responsibility of heads of state. With students and employees continuing to cross borders, institutions of higher education and organizations are swiftly diversifying. All of us are responsible for adapting to this changing environment.

Developing intercultural communication skills matters more than ever. Wondering how you can better engage with people from different countries that are sitting in your classroom or joining your team at work? Here are two steps to help you connect with people from different cultures:

1. Learn about where you come from.

The way we see, interact with, and understand the world depends on the culture and values we grew up with. As we become increasingly interconnected, it is important to understand who you are in order to best communicate with others. Recognizing that you see the world in a unique way will help you to understand why someone from a different culture may not see things exactly the way that you do. Think about aspects of your identity, such as your age, gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability status, sexual orientation, and spiritual orientation. How have these parts of your identity impacted your worldview? In addition, how have certain sociocultural and personal events shaped who you are?

2. Learn more about other cultures.

Reading books by authors from other countries, watching movies and documentaries filmed abroad, and reaching out to your colleagues, classmates, and neighbors from different cultures will help you educate yourself about other cultures. Asking someone about cultural do’s and don’ts in their country can often lead to a fun conversation. Taking a language course is another great way to learn about the geography, people, and history of the countries where the language is spoken. The more contact and exposure you have to people from other cultures, the more culturally competent you will become.

Even though we are more connected by popular media today, our cultural differences persist and can lead to unnecessary and unintended intercultural conflicts. If we want to avoid cultural clashes like this, we must educate ourselves as best as possible about who we are and about the cultural values and beliefs of others. Awareness will help us understand why someone may be arguing a certain ethical point in class or leading a meeting in a certain way at work. Awareness will make us better prepared to listen, rather than react. Even if we end up not agreeing, our intercultural communication skills will allow us to respect one another and be more accepting of our differences.

A Lifelong Learner’s Secrets To High-Impact Learning

For most professionals, the workday is measured by how much you get done. Every moment that isn’t spent working seems like time wasted. But there is evidence that investing time each day in learning something new can drastically improve your productivity and problem-solving skills in the long-term.

In the long run, the brightest and most effective people are those who are lifelong learners. Learning enriches our understanding of the world, sheds light on new opportunities, and improves our quality of life. Ready to devote some time to becoming a lifelong learner? Here are some secrets to high-impact learning:

Make time for just learning. 

Scheduling downtime to explore new ideas through reading, having deep conversations, attending classes or seminars, or just observing others can help you acquire new skills and insights. Building time into your day to learn more about yourself or your industry can give you the tools to solve today’s problems while also helping you figure out how to achieve your long-term goals. Through school, through work, or through interactions with friends and colleagues learning happens all the time. An extended coffee break with a friend may seem like slacking off, but some of the world’s best ideas have been born by taking time to bounce ideas around. Make the time and make things happen.

Practice Deliberately.

Most people practice through repetition of what they already know. Yet research shows that only by deliberate practice — that is, focusing specific and sustained efforts on something your can’t yet do well — can you become an expert.  Engaging in deliberate practice is key to high-impact learning. By strategically practicing new skills you can improve far more quickly. Likewise, finding practical application for your learning will help you retain more of what you have learned.


One of the most important and most-overlooked parts of the learning process is reflection. Not only does synthesizing and articulating the learning experience solidify the new knowledge, research shows that reflection builds one’s confidence in the ability to achieve a goal, which in turn translates into higher rates of learning. Ruminating can help us gain perspective on lessons learned and fully assimilate new ideas.

Five Tips For Working & Going To School At The Same Time

According to new research from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), today most postsecondary students are working and going to school. “The nature of work requirements have changed over time,” said report coauthor Nicole Smith, a Research Professor and Chief Economist at CEW. “The fast pace of technological growth has made it necessary for individuals to be always upscaling their skills and credentials.”

Technology has not only changed traditional jobs, but it has also created entirely new job categories. Many jobs that exist today may not have existed 10 or 20 years ago, such as jobs in healthcare IT, cybersecurity, big data, data analytics, and app and mobile development. Companies want to hire well-rounded individuals who can understand the technical aspects of their job while also having leadership and management skills.

At Georgetown’s Center for Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE), our certificate programs are designed to provide students with real-world skills they can immediately apply in the workplace as well as a better understanding of the competencies they may need in the future. Wondering how you can upgrade your skills while still holding down a full- or part-time job? Here are five tips for balancing work and school:

1. Build A Support System

Having a strong support system can make or break you. Whether it’s family, friends, or a mentor, you need people around who can help you stay motivated and remember your passion for the career you’re preparing for.

2. Plan Your Academic Path

Set goals and figure out what steps you need to take to reach them. Do you need six courses to complete your program? Find out when they’re offered and talk to an advisor to get help mapping out your course plan. Every student is different and talking to an advisor can help you decide if you should take classes back-to-back or give yourself more time to absorb the material.

3. Time Management Is Everything

It’s easy to forget about school when you’re working long hours or focusing on a big project at the office. Take a few minutes each morning to think about what you need to accomplish and the steps involved. Knowing what success looks like before you start will help you manage your time intentionally and keep track of anything you’ve missed.

Can you do your class readings on the train to work? Could that client meeting happen at a restaurant after class? Finding ways to knock out small pieces of each project will help you stay on track.

4. Bring School To Work

Whenever you can, try to use your work as a case study in your class projects and put your class projects into practice at your company or organization. This will help you learn to apply the concepts you’re exploring in the classroom and make a big impact at work.

Make sure your manager knows you are going to school. Bringing your boss into the conversation will help set expectations and could open up new opportunities. Some employers offer funding for employee education or professional development that could help you pay for school, and your manager might be willing to be flexible with your schedule if you can show continuing your education in a certain area will help you make positive changes at work.

5. Harness The Power Of Teamwork

One of the best parts of going back to school while working is that every class is a networking opportunity. Look for opportunities to form study groups or partner up on assignments and build relationships with your classmates. Working in a team can increase your learning and also give you insight into the way other people in your industry work.

Bonus tip: Love what you’re learning! We’ve all become full-time students now simply because the pace of technology and the skills that are needed change so fast. In today’s environment, you have to constantly reinvent yourself.

How To Spark Creativity At Work

Business Team Meeting Around Table For Brainstorming Session

Innovation is what sets businesses up for long-term success. Yet many organizations are missing the key element to finding innovative ideas: creativity.

Nurturing your creative self can unlock your strategic mind and help you bring your skills to the table in fresh, meaningful ways that can benefit your entire organization. Do you remember the last time you came up with a terrific idea? You probably didn’t think of it while staring at your computer screen. Chances are you were doing something completely unrelated like taking a shower or doodling during a conference call.

How can you magnify those “a-ha” moments and spark creativity at work? Check out these tips to get the creative juices flowing:

Take A Mental Break

Most professionals think of time spent on Facebook or playing smartphone games as time wasted instead of recognizing it for what it is really is: A mental break. It’s incredibly difficult to be creative when you’re burned out. Taking a mental break before tackling complex tasks can actually help foster creative thinking and make you more productive long-term. Whether it’s

Visualize It

As students in our Data Science program know, the most complex and revealing data analysis is meaningless without effective visualization. Writing down an idea or physically sketching it out can also help it grow into something more substantial, effectively jump-starting your creative process. Next time you need your team to do some creative problem-solving, get into a room together and use white boards, post-its, or whatever visual tools you have at hand to add momentum to your brainstorm session.

Get Physical

Research confirms that physical activity is a cognitive enhancer promoting creativity. Biking to work, taking a lunchtime run, or going for an afternoon walk are all great ways to relax your mind and help you attack problems with a fresh perspective.

Even if you can’t take an exercise break at the office, social psychologist Amy Cuddy, an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, says that “power-posing,” or adopting body postures in ways that make you feel more confident, can also spark creativity. Power-posing is an example of what Cuddy calls a “body-mind nudge” which allows you to skip over psychological stumbling blocks and unlock newfound confidence.

Start With The Wrong Answers

The fastest way to kill a brainstorm session is to start rejecting ideas. The goal of your brainstorm session should be to generate as many ideas as possible. Only after you’ve captured all the possibilities should you start evaluating your options and finding solutions that work.

In your next brainstorm session, make sure your team knows that nothing is off the table. Banning negative language like “We can’t” allows people to contribute to the discussion with confidence rather than fearing ridicule or rejection. The sooner your team feels empowered to throw out ideas that might not be successful, the sooner you’ll be able to produce new ideas.

Career Changers: How To Craft The Perfect Elevator Pitch

Two men in interview setting

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a career changer is assuring hiring managers that you aren’t a risky hire. Although you may be transitioning from a completely different field, there will almost certainly be parallels between your previous field and the industry you are trying to break into. Here are four easy steps to craft an elevator pitch that will overcome hiring managers’ concerns by emphasizing your transferable skills and putting them in language your new boss will understand.

Introduce Yourself

The first line of your elevator speech should establish your personal brand. How you brand yourself here should be an authentic reflection of who you are and should set the stage for the rest of your pitch.

If you don’t already have experience in the industry you are trying to enter, this is the place to establish yourself as a career changer.

I’m Joan. I’m a teacher who is passionate about making the transition to school administration.

If you do already have a significant amount of relevant experience that might not be evident from your previous job titles – for example, if you worked in fundraising but most of your responsibilities were in public relations, this is the point to re-frame your resume for the hiring manager.

I’m Ben and I’m an experienced communications professional.

Sell Your Strengths

Looking over your resume and past experience, what skills have played the biggest role in your success? There are many professional skills that are useful in a variety of industries and job functions — communication, creative problem-solving, technical savvy —  but hiring managers want to know which of your transferable skills are going to be valuable in your new field, and in what capacity. Boil down your elevator pitch to capture these strengths without using industry-specific jargon that wouldn’t make sense to someone outside your current line of work.

Working in the medical field I developed strong project management skills and gained an extensive knowledge of the healthcare system. I understand HIPPA and can read medical records, and I’m sure these skills will be vital to my success as a paralegal at your firm since you specialize in medical malpractice. 

Be Relatable

If you don’t have much experience in the field you are hoping to enter, focusing on your ability to deliver results can strengthen your candidacy. It’s okay to downplay your previous industry or job title and highlight other aspects of your experience such as special projects, revenue generated, etc. that are similar to those of the position you’re targeting.

Make the Connection

Wrap up your pitch by spelling out why you’re making a career transition. Make it abundantly clear where you are hoping to land.

After several months of freelance work, I’m confident in my skills and I know that event management is the field for me. I’m ready to leave my current position and make this my full-time career. 

Your elevator pitch is only the start of the conversation, but getting it right can help you leverage your skills and show hiring managers how you can be an asset in your new field. For more interviewing tips, check out our Resume Resources and expert Cover Letter Guide.