My Global Career Story: Part 1

This post was originally published on November 3, 2013. Since I’ve gotten some questions about and interest in my career story recently, I thought I’d update and repost the series. Here’s Part 1!

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A question I’m often asked is how did you get from college to doing what you’re doing today? I love hearing about other people’s career paths, so I thought you might like to hear my story.

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Let’s start with I’m doing now. I’m location-independent or, as some people say, a digital nomad. I call myself a “part-time nomad” because I have a home base in my adopted state of North Carolina and I travel a lot for work and fun. Most of my work is done virtually, so I can work anywhere I have my laptop and an internet connection.

In the past couple years I’ve traveled and worked in Australia, Germany, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, France, and several US states. Whenever possible I turn work trips into workations, meaning I go early or stay longer than a conference, meeting or consulting gig is scheduled. I’ll often rent an apartment for a week or two and continue working while I experience a new city.

I’m more nomadic that some, less than others. Being a part-time nomad works great for me and my husband at this stage in our lives, and – much to my surprise – I’ve grown to love having a home base as much as I love being on the road!

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As for my work, here’s what I’m currently doing:

1. Teaching at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I teach an undergraduate intercultural education service-learning class as part of the Carolina Navigators program. I really love teaching this class, working with undergraduate students, and keeping one foot in higher ed.

How do I teach a class and remain a part-time nomad? Here’s the short version: I turned the course into a hybrid online/face-to-face class.

But not because I wanted to be location-independent! After teaching the course as a traditional face-to-face class for three semesters, I just wasn’t satisfied with learning being constrained to Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 3:30-4:45pm.

Plus, I wanted the ability to grow our program so we could work with students across the US, and even across the world. So, I pitched a hybrid online/face-to-face class format and received a course development grant to create a new type of service-learning course at UNC.

Each semester I fit my travel around my face-to-face meetings with students. And I’m always available to them on Skype, even if that means meeting with them at 11pm at night when I’m in a different time zone. I really appreciate that teaching the class this way allows me to actually do the intercultural work I teach about.

2. Intercultural Education Consulting. For the past couple years I’ve been working with the Council of International Schools on a new program for K-12 schools around the world. I really love this gig. My colleagues are amazing educators and global citizens who live all over the world. Many of them have spent 20+ years as expats and school leaders.

A lot of my work for CIS and their partner schools is virtual but I have done some onsite work for them in the Netherlands, Australia, the US, and the UK. My work with CIS combines what I love most – education, intercultural learning, technology, and working with people from all over the world.

I also sometimes take one-off intercultural education consulting and training gigs, mostly related to K-12 and higher ed.

3. Small Planet Studio, LLC. Technically, all three of my gigs are wrapped up in Small Planet Studio, LLC but when I talk about SPS I’m usually talking about this website and the tools, re-entry workbook, courses, and events I offer here. Because I’ve scaled back on some of my other work I’m now able to maintain a more consistent focus on SPS, which has been awesome!

I’ve got some new courses coming up and I’m also going to start offering 1:1 services…more about that coming soon. 🙂

So, there you have it. That’s what I’m up to these days.

Since college I’ve pretty much always liked the jobs I’ve held but I REALLY like what I’m doing now. The location-independent lifestyle, being an entrepreneur, combining higher ed, K-12, and business – this is what I’ve been working towards since college.

I’ve never sought power or prestige or a specific position in a specific organization. Instead, my goal was always to do work that’s challenging, that I enjoy, and that affords me freedom, flexibility, and autonomy (my three life and career “ingredients”). It’s not always easy but at this point in my life, I really love where I am and what I’m doing.

Stay tuned…on Monday we’ll go back to the beginning to when I graduated from college and began my career journey.

Click here for part 2 of my career story…

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About the Author: Cate Brubaker

Dr. Cate Brubaker is a re-entry/repatriation coach, consultant, and author of the Re-Entry Roadmap creative workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 36 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.

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