International Opportunities in Science

An image of a globe with arrows shooting across connecting different people.Science seems to be one of the more international professions. Most research groups are made up of individuals from many countries. In the US, 60% of the postdoc population is foreign. An increasing number of US PhDs are also doing research abroad. How does this influence us as scientists and what are some pros and cons about a research career that incorporates international elements?

Pros:

  1. Research group members from other countries give all of us exposure to the world. It is a terrific way to begin understanding different traditions, cultures (and even food).
  2. Each of us brings a different perspective of how science is done and taught, giving the whole community a more diverse perspective and understanding.
  3. By dispersing scientists around the globe, scientific knowledge is also spread.

Cons:

  1. Having so many people with different ways of dealing with issues can lead to conflict. Being prepared will help you understand and communicate better; look at some cultural comparisons from Hofstede: http://geert-hofstede.com/countries.html
  2. The biggest challenge can come from determining whether an international opportunity is the best next career step.

    Here are some questions that you will likely ask yourself:

    1. Should/could you stay in your current country, go to another country, or go to your country of origin?
    2. What career opportunities exist and what does it take to apply to those?
    3. How does this decision influence my long-term scientific career?
    4. How much funding is available for science in particular countries?
    5. Will immigration policies influence your decision?
    6. What would be best for your family?
    7. How do you continue to network to get information and opportunities?

Gathering much of the data to answer these questions can be done on the web. But sometimes you want to talk to someone. You can connect with the scientific attache for various embassies. Or you could come to the NIH International Expo on September 9th which the OITE and the NIH Visiting Fellows Committee is hosting. Meet country representatives, funding organizations, and others interested in promoting science across the globe. Come and join us!

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