Building Cultural Awareness

By Debra J. Stark

Preparing for the world of work involves learning how to celebrate diversity and learning from the unique contributions of people across cultures, race, belief systems, gender, generations, and varying levels of physical abilities. 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?


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