GECD Celebrates Diversity with International Staff Exchange

Global Education and Career Development

University of Cape TownFor the past four years, Global Education and Career Development (GECD) has participated in an International Staff Exchange to foster greater cross-cultural understanding as well as learn international best practices in university career services, prehealth advising and international education.  Since its inception, the GECD Staff Exchange has developed partnerships with the University of Cambridge, Imperial College, and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.  This year, the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, was added to the repertoire of schools participating in the exchange.  With over 25,500 students enrolled, UCT is considered one of South Africa’s most elite institutions of higher education.

Christina Henry, a GECD Career Development Specialist, was selected for the exchange, visiting South Africa this past March.   During her week-long visit, Christina had the opportunity to engage with UCT’s Careers Service staff and with each of their three cross-functional teams: operations, careers advisory, and employer relations.   She also met with the director of UCT’s Careers Service, David Casey, who provided information on the office’s mission and strategic plan, which includes embedding career development within the curriculum and incorporating technology in the career development process.   She was able to learn how the three units work in collaboration to provide information, advice, and opportunities for students.  Lastly, Christina shadowed career appointments and attended the Careers Service’s first Internship Fair to witness first-hand how direct services are provided.

In order to obtain a holistic view, Christina met with other departments within the university. From Financial Aid, she learned about the number of students who received financial aid and the university’s “Gap Funding” campaign to cover the cost that government assistance cannot provide.  Also UCT currently has a Transformation Office where they think strategically about how they can increase diversity among students, faculty, and staff, 20 years post-apartheid.  Christina also met with the university’s HIV/AIDS Unit which provides testing and counseling and addresses the stigma associated with a disease so prevalent in South Africa.  Christina concluded her visit to UCT by meeting members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) and was impressed to learn that students not only make key decisions on behalf of the student body, but often go on to be very active in South African politics as well.

This June, GECD will host Gisele Raad, the Information Manager/Careers Advisor at UCT.  Prior to visiting Cambridge, Gisele will attend the National Association of Colleges and Employers Conference in San Antonio.  While at MIT, Gisele will meet with GECD staff, shadow appointments with MIT students, meet with other administrative offices and get a glimpse of MIT’s unique culture.