Don’t Accept that International Education Job TOO Quickly

imawinnerpinThe year was 1993 and I was fresh out of my graduate internship, having returned to the US just weeks before tackling the job search.  Eager to get a job in international education, I mailed my paper resume and cover letter to two organizations in New York City who had posting in the newspaper – one was New York University and the other was CIEE. (Two resumes. By snail mail. Based on print ads in a newspaper. Seriously, I must be a thousand years old!)

I got a phone call for an interview at NYU.

And then I got offered a job at NYU, right out of graduate school.

I took the job without negotiating a penny.  It never even dawned on me that I could or should do so.  They called and told me the salary, I was thrilled to have a job offer, and I said YES.

And that is exactly why, 23  years later, I teach a virtual (or in person) workshop called How To Negotiate Your Salary (specific to international education)!

I open each workshop with ny NYU story.  Why? It illustrates that the job market for this field has changed considerably.  It is rare for anyone in this field to send two resumes anywhere these days and actually land a job – PERIOD.  But what hasn’t changed is that the people I coach want to take any international education job offer without asking any questions – they are so grateful to have an offer that they:

  • don’t want to rock the boat by asking for more, fearful that if they seem pushy the offer will be recinded
  • don’t even think to ask – because no one has ever told them this is EXPECTED – even in entry level positions
  • are too emotionally tired from the search to muster up the strength for what they perceive to be a hard conversation
  • women who fail to negotiate tend to avoid it because they relate too much to the position of the hiring manager and don’t want to make more work for others and/or because they don’t want to be perceived as pushy or demanding

As a result, they often leave dollars (often THOUSANDS) on the table. 

The reality is that NEGOTIATION is expected.  It is not a discussion that comes out of left field and shocks hiring managers or human resource representatives;  it is something that is customarily part of the hiring dialogue – yes, even in international education.

In 20 plus years in this field, I have never seen an offer recinded based on a compensation negotation. NEVER.  I’ve certainly read about faculty who have had offers recinded, but administrative positions tend to be an entirely different ball game.  Most people don’t realize that the chance of having an administrative offer recinded is about as rare as being a victim of a terrorist attack abroad (which, by the way, you have less of a chance of that than having a piece of furniture in your home fall on you and kill you.)

While I recognize that the job search these days is a million times more demanding than the search I went through back in 1993, I do know that getting an offer in such a competitive field today means that you are damn good – and you are exactly who SHOULD be negotiating.  No matter how tired you are from the search, you have earned the right to ask for more than is being offered…and in most cases you will get SOMETHING as a result of asking – if you have a well thought out and researched case to present (and this is exactly what I teach!). Saying “I worked really hard to get here and I will be very committed” is not how to get yourself a raise…trust me on that one. Facts and data trump enthusiasm any day!

Finally, women are selling themselves (and all women) short by not negotiating. Women make less than men for nearly every professional position in the United States and we are not bold in asking for our worth.  (And yes, I teach that too.)

how to negotiate your salary If someone said told you that you could earn thousands more than an initial offer for your dream job, wouldn’t you want to receive the highest package possible? Wouldn’t you want your retirement contributions – which are typically based on a percentage of salary – to be as high as possible? Wouldn’t you want to pitch your worth with facts and data and receive your worth, vs simply saying “Yes, I’ll take it” as I did in 1993?

I reflect on the first time I actually did negotiate my salary for a job that required cross cultural competency, international travel, interfacing with senior international officers, keeping up with laws and policies, etc – and damn, it felt good. I got thousands more than what I asked for and even negotiated more vacation time in my first year on that job.

And once I did that, there was no turning back.  The cost of not doing so wasn’t only financial anymore – it was a question of self esteem.  I knew I had worked myself to the bone, often being the last to leave the office, often giving up weekends, taking time away from friends and family over for conferences/sites visit/orientations/etc  – and that I had something great to offer employers. I was empowered to stand up for my worth and I vowed never to just say YES again – and I didn’t.

Today, I teach others in the field (newbies and “seasoned” employees) the language of negotiation specific to international education.  I want others to feel as empowered as I have by standing up for my worth and I especially want women to close that gap in dollars.

I’m excited to share the updated version of the How to Negotiate Your Salary (Compensation) tool – specific to international education!  It now includes a recording of mock interviews so that you can hear what different strategies can be employed in a negotiation (pun intended)!

I can tell you, as a coach and mentor, that there is NOTHING more exciting for me than when I hear these words from someone I’m working with:

“Missy, I got it!  I got what I asked for!  It was scary but SO much easier than I thought.  I couldn’t have done it without you.”

We are all capable of negotiation – and just like crossing cultures and immersing in another language abroad, learning the methodology and ‘language’ of successful international education negotiation IS possible.

I’ve had people completely new to the field as well as people who have worked in it for more than 20 years tell me that they couldn’t have negotiated successfully without the methodology I teach in this workshop.

It IS possible and YOU ARE WORTH IT! 


The C4 Cohort registration is now open for our cohort starting in Dec 2016.  Read more about the strategic program to land your dream international education program here!


  1. Abroadia says:

    Great post, Missy! This is an issue that is either overlooked or ignored by many international education job seekers. Thank you for addressing this!

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