Building Cultural Awareness
Preparing for the world of work involves learning how to celebrate diversity and learning from the unique contributions of people across cultures, racial groups, belief systems, gender, generations, varying levels of physical abilities, and more. The interplay of these distinctly different groups, individuals, and mindsets creates a rich environment of ideas that bring forth creative and flexible solutions to complex work problems and situations. Consistently ranked high on employer surveys of desired skills for new hires are creativity, innovation, and flexibility. Being able to think outside the box can help you stand out and grow in your career and there is nothing better than focusing on diversity to help you expand your thinking and creativity.
While it may appear to come naturally to some, you can help yourself by taking advantage of the many diverse activities and programs occurring on your campus and in your community. Step outside your comfort zone and leave the familiar to immerse yourself in something new and different. Challenge yourself to seek out peers outside your circle of friends when asked to participate in a group project or extra-curricular event. Expand your horizon and connect with groups in support of social justice, community service, or gender issues. Doing this will enrich your ability to consider the perspective of others and expand your network of contacts. These experiences will provide you with actual examples that can demonstrate to potential employers your interpersonal and communication skills, and your ability to work with others in a team situation.
How are you building your cultural awareness?
About The Author
Debra J. Stark, MA, is the Assistant Director of Employer Relations and Alumni Career Advisor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she has worked since 1996. In this role she advises both students and alumni, maintains the order and collection development of the Career Resource Center, administers and creates career development instruction modules for First Year students, teaches the upper level Career Achievement Program, and oversees the center’s career management system.