Blog Post

Travel for More Than Pleasure: Boost Your Cultural Intelligence

Cornerstone Editors

Taking a family trip to Europe during high school and studying abroad in college provide more than just a vacation from your day-to-day life — they provide cultural intelligence that can help candidates secure a job and open employees’ eyes to new projects.

In fact, cultural experiences impact the number of job offers that an MBA student receives, according to a study by professor William W. Maddux. Traveling to new countries opens your mind to different types of interactions and experiences, and that mentality can be applied in the workplace.

"Students who adapted to and learned about new cultures engaged in job interviews more creatively and demonstrated more openness and initiative," writes David Livermore, a cultural intelligence thought leader. "They were seen as being able to bring seemingly unrelated ideas together into meaningful wholes."

When people travel, they are developing their cultural intelligence. Specifically, international travel builds a stronger sense of self, increased trust, and creativity and problem-solving, says Livermore.

Travel to Increase Cultural Intelligence

While it’s easy to convince yourself to take a weekend getaway to Mexico or a week-long vacation to Europe, not all cultural experiences are created equal. Livermore pinpoints five ways for people to make the most of their international travel, and how doing so relates to the workplace.

1. Embrace new opportunities

Interacting with only Americans and eating foods that you’re familiar with won’t increase cultural intelligence. Instead, try the local cuisine or strike up a conversation with someone on the bus. Expanding your mind to new opportunities will help when you are assigned a task that you’ve never done at work.

2. Continue to travel

After a big trip, don’t check the box off travel for the year. The more you’ve traveled, the greater your cultural intelligence will be and the greater your opportunity for career development.

3. Bring the kids along

While childhood travel doesn’t impact cultural intelligence as much as adult travel, it plays a large role in helping form a sense of self.

4. Surround yourself by positivity

Your travel companions influence your perspective on various aspects of a culture, so bring along positive people who want to absorb and experience a country’s authenticity. This same mentality can be applied in the workplace.

5. Reflect back at home

Thinking about an experience after you’ve returned home is just as important as the actual experience. Consider how your current surroundings are different than those you were just in, and whether there are positive changes to make.

International travel can provide a huge benefit for job candidates, but having the experience on your resume isn’t what’s going to land you a job. Adds Livermore: "Using travel to expand your view of self, integrate seemingly disparate parts, and creatively solve problems allows you to stand apart from other candidates who have traveled abroad without ’seeing’ anything."

Related Resources

Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.

Driving innovation through a data-driven talent strategy

Customer Story

Driving innovation through a data-driven talent strategy

PGS is a global geophysical company with a simple mission; to support the search for affordable and sustainable energy for all. While the company’s primary focus had previously been in oil and gas exploration, this transition to operating in renewables such as offshore wind and carbon storage has been a recent one.

Schedule a personalized 1:1

Talk to a Cornerstone expert about how we can help with your organization’s unique people management needs.

© Cornerstone 2024