A Short-term Fulbright Opportunity for University Career Services Professionals
By Jennifer L. Blanck
Are you faced with challenges in serving your students’ international career development needs? Are you interested in professional development opportunities that help broaden your perspective and expose you to new ideas, people, and cultures? If so, the Fulbright Germany International Education Administrators (IEA) Program is for you.
The Fulbright Germany IEA Program is a two-week professional development opportunity for career services, alumni relations, development, and international education staff. It is one of five programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to help “international education professionals and senior higher education officials from the United States create empowering connections with the societal, cultural and higher education systems of other countries” (http://www.cies.org/iea/). Applicants must be U.S. citizens; be affiliated with a U.S. university, college, community college, or nonprofit international education exchange organization; and serve as full-time administrators.
The Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), the scholar division of the Institute of International Education, administers the IEA seminars under a cooperative agreement with the State Department. The other four programs—France, India, Japan, and Korea—target senior-level administrators in international education exchange, foreign admissions advising, and study abroad. All program proceedings are in English and doctoral degrees are not required.
Chris Timm, 2010 grantee and Associate Director of Career Services at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, noted, “As I saw more international students and domestic students interested in international opportunities, I realized my own global awareness was lacking. This was a great opportunity to interact with other professionals and focus on the educational experience. I have more credibility with students as a result of my experience.”
The Germany program offers up to 20 grants covering all expenses for travel, lodging, and incidentals, as well as health insurance coverage. Among other considerations, preference is given to applicants with at least three years of administrative experience and supervisory responsibility overall and at least one year of service at their current institution.
Although the exact program can change each year, participants typically spend a week in Berlin meeting with German colleagues and representatives from education-related organizations. The second week involves smaller groups visiting institutions throughout Germany. The 2013 program will also include a side-trip for the entire group to Strasbourg, France.
“The intercultural experience was broadening,” said Paula Zimmer, 2011 grantee and Assistant Dean of Career Services at Western New England University’s School of Law. “It provided a greater understanding of European education and more global awareness. And my institution’s name got out there to U.S. and German colleagues.”
The Application Process
The annual deadline to apply is February 1. Candidates are typically notified if they make it past the first stage in April and if they are selected as finalists in May. The seminar begins toward the latter part of October.
For those interested in applying, here are some tips from past grantees and CIES staff:
Leave yourself plenty of time, particularly to get your recommendations in on time.
Talk to past grantees.
Follow the instructions carefully and answer the questions directly.
Present the unique things you can bring as an individual and what you can contribute to the experience.
Proofread and review your application to make sure it’s well written.
Watch a CIES webinar.
Apply a second time if you don’t get it the first time.
The Preparation Process
It’s also helpful to talk to past grantees after you’re accepted into the program. Grantees recommend not only reviewing all the information provided, but also reading about German institutional education and the Bologna Process in European higher education.
Many participants will tell you that they regretted how much they packed for the trip. Zimmer emphasized, “Pack lightly! Really pack lightly!”
Kelly A. Kowatch, 2009 grantee and Assistant Director for the Career Development Office at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, agrees. “Pack lightly! They said it would be rigorous and it is. You’re in professional attire the entire time. Don’t plan on doing work, because there’s no time.”
“We were told to bring small gifts for our hosts,” Timm noted. “I wish I would have brought pens, notepads, and other such things for the many people I met along the way in addition to the larger items for the key hosts.”
Consider arriving at least a day ahead of time to adjust to the time change, as well as taking some extra time to travel. Timm said, “I was worried about being out of the office for two weeks but I wish I would have taken some extra personal time to travel before or after the trip.”
The Fulbright German IEA Program is an invaluable opportunity to expand your knowledge of international higher education and immerse yourself in German culture. As Kowatch noted, “It gave me a whole new understanding of what’s going on, and I could communicate with students about internships in Europe. It also gave me more clout with my leadership—being a Fulbright. I’m now leading international career initiatives.” Consider applying to the seminar and discover the professional and personal benefits for yourself.
Jennifer L. Blanck, M.Ed., is the Assistant Dean of Career & Alumni Services at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University. She was also a 2008 Fulbright Germany grantee. She has worked in higher education for more than 12 years and public affairs for more than 7 years. Jennifer is a published author in U.S. and global publications and has trained domestic and international audiences on career development, public speaking, leadership, and other issues. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
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