Saying you want to work in international business has a great ring to it. But what does that entail? There are tons of job opportunities in IB to be checked out, no matter your industry or function interests. Let’s delve into what it means to work in international business.
International business is defined as commercial transactions that occur across country borders. In this day and age, almost every business conducts some international business but to different extents. People working in international business are generally those that are handling relations with foreign entities and strategizing to enter and optimize these markets.
Where are these jobs?
Global and international employers are often based in large cities throughout the countries they operate in – which makes it easier to do business on a larger scale (usually the premise of international business). London, England offers the largest number of international graduate vacancies.
Who would I work for?
You can work in almost any industry and find an internationally focused job that works for you. Any company that sells goods or services internationally, has foreign clientele, or sources products internationally needs somebody with IB acumen to handle their business. In particular, growth-stage businesses often pursue international markets as a means for expansion.
What would I be doing?
The relations a company has with foreign entities have to be managed on every single level of business.
- Finance – CFOs can finance projects internationally, investment advisors can give tips on foreign currency, and portfolio managers can include international assets.
- Accounting – due to the complexity of international policies and currencies, corporations need extra help handling their statements while analyzing operations, consolidating results and ensuring compliance. Managerial accounting in this area involves even more strategy. You can also work for an accounting firm and complete international or tax audits.
- Marketing – when operations span multiple countries, a manager at an MNC will have to decide how to strategize for one or all areas.
- Consulting – management consultants often travel for work and provide recommendations to MNCs with complex, borderless problems
- Business development – when it comes to expansion, international sales representatives must work to create unique client relationships through communication and travel.
What skills will I need?
- Critical thinking and problem solving skills. Businesses that work internationally have complex problems that must be solved creatively.
- Research and analysis skills. Due to the broader range of information and economies you’re spanning, there’s a lot of ambiguity and the path may not yet be tread. Learn to find the information you need.
- Communicating with different audiences. Being able to tailor a message to a specific group, considering their demographic and culture, is important to foster international relationships. This involves how formal and informal you are, what mediums you use to communicate, and how to address people.
- Keeping up to date on technology. As the world progresses at a quickening rate, it’s key to be up to date and ready to adapt to the ways people are working and communicating.
- Team working skills. You’ll be collaborating with people in your own office and across the world – having team working skills will make it easier to get the other cultural stuff down too.
- Appreciation of cultural differences. These can be frustrating, but understanding the differences and their merits means you know what to expect and how to take advantage.
- Planning and management skills. With so many moving parts, you need to be able to account for complicating factors like policies or time zones.
- Learning a new language. If you have a second language, you can be a huge asset when communicating with specific countries.
Many international business courses encourage international study or work experience so you may also be able to demonstrate transferable skills such as learning a new language, flexibility, cultural awareness and curiosity.
What courses can I take to prepare?
It’s a great idea to take courses that expand your understanding of international landscape, along with being proficient in your preferred function. These courses can include macroeconomics, international trade, international business culture, and communications. Here are some Smith courses that you can take.
- Comm 353 Managing across cultures
- Comm 373 International negotiations
- Comm 374 International business strategy
- Comm 375 International business
- Comm 376 Doing business in the Asia-Pacific rim
- Comm 398 Business, government and the global economy
- Comm 471 Advanced topics in international business and CSR
- Comm 472 Business and development
- MIB: Masters in international business