Working abroad appeals to more young professionals

ON THE JOB

January 30, 2008|By HANAH CHO

Denise Wysocki, a Baltimore-based audit manager at KPMG, spent 18 months at the accounting and auditing firm's Madrid, Spain, office, learning Spanish and gaining valuable experience abroad.

All before she turned 30.

A growing number of young professionals are no longer waiting until they hit a career midpoint to seek postings overseas. Many, like Wysocki, want international experience almost immediately after college.

A survey last year of 44,064 undergraduate students found that 80 percent want to work internationally, according to Universum, an employment research company.

Nineteen percent of these students indicated that working abroad is a career goal they hope to accomplish within three years of graduation, according to the same survey. (The survey has a margin of error of 5 percent.)

At KPMG, which is promoting overseas assignments company-wide, more than 450 U.S. employees were assigned last year to international offices in countries such as India, Ireland and Germany. More than 70 percent of these associates were younger than 30, according to the company.

It assigned 600 international workers to U.S. offices.

Aiden Walsh, a partner-in-charge of KPMG's global rotation program, says college graduates see international assignments as a must-have requirement in a global economy.

"Most of them are saying, `If I join KPMG, would I get the opportunity to go overseas?' If we don't say yes, those people will go elsewhere. They will take a global opportunity with someone else," Walsh says. "Our focus now is to try to have 25 to 30 percent of our people getting an international opportunity as early as possible in their careers, after two to three years with us."

To that end, KPMG asks its employees in performance reviews whether they're interested in an international assignment, Walsh says.

In recent years, the firm has trained new hires from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany in the latter country, he says.

"It's a great thing to give our people that experience and understanding of how other people live and operate in their countries," Walsh says.

Wysocki, who's 28, says she sought the international posting for personal and professional reasons: Her fiance was studying law in Madrid and she wanted to bolster her skills.

"Since business is more global now, and more businesses work internationally, getting the experience working internationally will give you a broader perspective on how things work," says Wysocki, who returned to Baltimore in May.

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On the Job is published Monday at www.baltimoresun.com.

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