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How do you prepare for a job that takes your tasks global?

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Question: "I’ve just landed a job with a big international marketing firm, and even though I'll be working from the states, I get a little nervous when they tell me about all the different clients and projects involving so many different countries. What do I most need to be prepared for as an admin who’s suddenly dealing with international cultures, people, and ways of doing things?” – Mary, Long Island, N.Y.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Tris October 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

I would get real familiar with USPS and UPS international mailing systems–it helps to always be aware of the rates and shipping times so you don’t wind up promising things that arrive too late and cost five times more than you quoted!


Julie October 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

One easy thing to do is change the time zone on the boss’s Outlook calendar. That lets you know when you could expect to talk with him/her without waking him/her up.


Sherry October 12, 2012 at 11:31 am

There is a book called Kiss Bow or Shake Hands that would be very beneficial to you. Understanding the cultures of the people you will be dealing with will make it much easier to form virtual relationships. For instance it is extremely important to be polite to the English and don’t be insulted if the Germans seem very blunt. Brazilians don’t have the same urgency regarding time as we do…

Also get acquainted with the time zones that you will be dealing with. Try to remember things like answer all your emails and put in all your requests for information to Europe during the first half of the day because come lunch time most of them are heading home. Get up to speed with the changes for daylight savings time as this one hour can mean the difference between all parties making it to the meeting at the same time.

As for accents, if you know you will be dealing with a particular accent, if you try to learn the language, even if you don’t succeed, the experience of taking the lessons and trying to learn will help you to understand the accents better.

Good luck it is a wonderful experience working internationally. Above all be flexible (that will be the key to your success).


Barbie M October 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Having a better understanding of the different cultures you’ll be working with will go a long way in smoothing any bumps in the road that you may encounter. One informal way to do that would be to use a language site like Live Mocha (http://livemocha.com/). Not only does it offer lessons on learning language, it also has communities of people sharing their respective cultures. My husband’s family recently visited from Japan. Using Live Mocha helped me to understand some of the cultural norms and helped me to avoid feeling like a “big dumb American” which is unfortunately the reputation we have. I hope this helps you. I think you’re going to have a GREAT time. This experience will definitely broaden your horizons!


Kathy October 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I would say for me, the most difficult thing are the accents. Sometimes it is very hard to understand and I have to ask them to repeat several times (which I hate doing). Their english is far better than any language I could speak, so, I am always having to apologize for not understanding.


Karen Tynes October 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm

There are pages I could write you on international travel. Develop a checklist!!! It is too easy to drop the ball. Each country has very different requirements. Check into visas and passports. Obtaining these can take months! Stay in pace with expenses. These can rack up really fast then then next thing you know you have a $20,000 bill!


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