Heather Thomas
Employer: ORC Worldwide

Position description:
I provide consulting advice to companies who are looking to transfer their employees abroad. This is mainly in the form of providing cost of living comparisons between countries, but I also make recommendations about relocation logistics in general, the compensation package the employee should be offered, and any location-specific factors to consider. I work with all types of companies in all industries, who are sending employees to nearly every country in the world.

Photo: Heather Thomas
How They Got There

Undergrad degree:  International Relations and Global Studies

Graduate degree:  Master's degree in International Education.

College to career:  My undergraduate degree has not played much of a role in my present career at all! My first job out of college was as a paralegal for a federal agency in Washington D.C. After that, I had a few more random administrative jobs before "deciding what I wanted to do with my life" and going back to get my Master's degree in International Education. I thought I knew what I wanted to do at that point, which was work in the study abroad field, but it wasn't until I was partially through the program and learned about more career options by being around people in the field that I really honed in on what I wanted to do: work in a company's Human Resource department doing Global Mobility (ie moving their employees to offices abroad, or vice versa). I got a job at Lehman Brothers doing exactly that, but when they went bankrupt, I was able to take my experiences there and become a consultant advising other companies on this issue.

Career influences:  My main influence on my career choice was the amazing and transformative experiences I had while studying abroad in high school and college. Initially, I wanted to help facilitate study abroad programs for other students, but after learning more about career options in that field, that goal shifted into facilitating work abroad programs for adults, which is what I do now.

The Ups and Downs
I have much more stable hours as a consultant than I did working in Human Resources in-house at an investment bank. It's great to be able to work with so many companies and to get to know such a wide variety of people.

Be your own biggest advocate. I was too modest to really pursue professors for advice, help, or formal recommendation letters, hoping that if I was a good enough student, they would want to help me on their own. Everyone is busy and needs to be reminded of things, and people also tend to want to help someone who asks for their help. Also, I have since realized that other people were being aggressive and advocating for themselves, so by not doing so, I was putting myself at a disadvantage. This goes for job hunting and other things you'll do post-college, as well!