Stumped after studying abroad? A career mentor suggests next steps

The student had just returned from studying abroad but was confused on how to make her next move, so she started working with career coach Owen Jones.

Jones, who serves as business advisor for the Foundation for Global Scholars, knew the student, who had been overseas just once at that point, needed guidance as to how to use her new international competencies to find her own answers.

“She was stumped with how to make the best use of her time abroad,” said Jones, a native of England who built an international career working in both the United Kingdom and the United States. “She knew what she wanted to do. But like a lot of people, she didn’t see the connection as to how to get it done.”

Jones set the student on a more fruitful course by encouraging her to take these steps:

1) Go after the answers to your big career questions the same way you faced unknowns while studying abroad.

What did you do when you didn’t know how to get around? How did you figure out how to buy a train ticket or use public transportation? How did you decide what and where to eat? Put these same skills into your career pursuits, Jones says. “Just pretend you are somewhere new.”

2) Pick up the phone.

Call the people who can help you and ask them directly the questions you want answered, says Jones, whose own career has woven its way through the corporate environments of Rolls Royce, Parker Pen UK, and Peterbilt, as well as the startup world and career and leadership training field.

“The people that were most able to help her – I provoked her into phoning them,” Jones says. “It was very simple, just picking up the phone. Ask if you can swing by for half an hour to ask some questions.”

In the case of the student on the receiving end of this advice, she needed to connect with individuals who worked in a government agency.

“She actually did that,” he says. “She got to the people who could really help.”

3) Get your foot in the door.

Pursue positions that will get you closer to your chosen career by considering part-time and entry-level positions, internships or even volunteer work.

“Don’t wait for jobs to pop up on the Internet,” Jones says. “Make your own way.”

Check out Owen’s company, Colorado Careers, at!