Some people want to work globally online as part of a chosen digital nomadic lifestyle (affiliate link). For others, local opportunities are severely limited by circumstance and for them global online work is an opportunity to exercise their professional skills beyond their circumscribed local conditions. Think about the millions of refugees stuck in refugee camps or those in Palestine with restricted freedom of movement.
What if their university education prepared such people instead of them having to work it all out by themselves after graduation? Many universities make efforts to give some entrepreneurial training either at bachelor or at postgraduate level. But what is needed here is a very specific type of entrepreneurial training about how to secure commissioned work in a digital global context.
The starting point
A good start would be if these university students had had a global education as I discussed in my last post on Julie Lindsay’s new book, ‘The Global educator’. But it would be more realistic to assume that most college students have not had this background.
One organisation has started to think about this and came up with the following learning outcomes for their staff. ie this is what they thought staff should be able to do in order to help their students be better at finding remote work.
- develop comprehensive understanding of the concepts and principles of remote and e-work skills
- identify core skills needed for successful e-working to meet international labour market demands
- identify specialised remote e-skills in the fields of IT, languages, architecture or business
- apply fundamental strategies and activities needed to integrate the necessary e-skills into academic curriculum
- network with international remote job agencies/recruiters
As is often the case when faced with such a proposal, I sense that it is not just a question of knowledge but also of experiential learning which in the end will result in a change of attitude, not just an expansion to the body of learned knowledge.
Let’s take one simple example.
Most likely, students will be recommended to set up a LinkedIn profile. But this really demands that the staff also set up an effective LinkedIn profile so that they can guide their students from concrete experience. Not uploading a profile image is one example of a sensitive area. Profiles with no image are statistically less likely to be seen as trustworthy or interesting but yet some cultures proscribe the use of face photos. Staff need to have faced these dilemmas themselves before being able to advise their students. Perhaps it would prevent examples such as the one below in which I was apparently the fifth most important person to connect with, even though I have no connection with this person and their profile was so empty that it was impossible to tell whether there was any professional overlap between us.
Wanted: Entrepreneurial mindset
Helping college students find digital work in a global context requires an entrepreneurial mindset.
Both from the students who will be selling their skills…
And the staff who will be trying to uncover and nurture them.
It has been said that the future is already here; it is just unevenly distributed. And I have a feeling that the content is king approach to education is still very prevalent all over the world. So an unintended consequence of wanting to give students access to global digital assignments is probably a re-think of the overall pedagogic approach in many cases. Partly because supporting students in securing global assignments is not just a matter of content and technical skills, but also because preparing students should not be a matter of a quick 3 week course but should be something which is embedded across the whole of the university course to give students time to nurture a digital network.
You cannot expect to create a LinkedIn profile one day and receive assignment offers the following week.
Image credit: By Vladimir Platonow/Agência Brasil – http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/direitos-humanos/foto/2016-04/na-turquia-curdos-travam-luta-secular-por-mais-autonomia, CC BY 3.0 br, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48138544