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International Business

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Careers in International Business

As the world becomes a global marketplace, all types of businesses are seeking to expand their operations across national borders and into the world marketplace. Multinational corporations, joint ventures, financial institutions, law firms, consulting firms and manufacturers of both goods and services cater to an international clientele.

Most internationally oriented jobs in the business world involve marketing, sales, finance, operations and strategic planning and are found in the United States, although some positions might involve working abroad. Typically, businesses with overseas operations will hire foreign nationals rather than expatriate Americans.

Likewise, few corporations have "international departments." Instead, their international work is shared among various departments such as marketing, sales, legal, or finance. International positions are available within subsidiaries of foreign companies operating in the United States. International professionals also play an important intermediary role between Federal agencies in matters of trade regulation.

Career Paths

Entry-level jobs in the field of international business are as varied as the field itself. Most positions in marketing, finance, and consulting work begin with in-house training programs of a managerial, development and/or technical nature. Companies with international markets usually prefer that employees become fully trained in the domestic operations of the business before being given an opportunity to represent the firm abroad.

Having completed specialized training programs and/or on-the-job training, individuals hired by firms functioning internationally are often assigned to the U.S. headquarters of the company, working within the marketing, sales, planning, or accounting/finance department. Foreign travel for negotiation or consultation is possible. Those working for multinational corporations, joint ventures, financial institutions, or consulting firms will generally be given the opportunity for foreign assignments such as managing a foreign subsidiary or directing the firm's overseas operations after years of domestic service.

Qualifications Necessary

Breaking into international business requires experience within particular industries - more than the knowledge of a foreign language, area studies, or international experience. Well-established firms normally hire local staff, so the best opportunities in international business tend to be with small companies just starting to enter the international business arena or expanding to new locations. Small companies look for candidates with management and marketing skills. International business-related courses are recommended, as well as accounting, business finance, money and financial markets, statistics, micro- and macroeconomics and marketing. A framework of public policy, international trade, language and cultural fluency combined with business skills is an invaluable combination for those looking to work in international business.

While firms are still willing to train qualified candidates who have no specific experience in their business, they are more interested in people who can be productive from their first day on the job, as training programs are being curtailed because they are expensive both in terms of cost and time. If you can show experience in the company's business or sector, you will be in a stronger position.

Potential Employers

*For a more thorough listing of international employers as well as international job postings, please see "Going Global" in our Subscriptions section*

Online Resources



International Business Directory,