Cultural Exchange an Asset: International Student Centre

Over the past few months, Workforce WindsorEssex has noticed an increase in employers prioritizing multilingualism in their job postings. Workforce WindsorEssex Research Associate Marissa Bumanlag interviewed local employers on the topic of hiring those who can speak multiple languages and what kind of benefits they bring to the organization.

Workforce WindsorEssex Research Associate Marissa Bumanlag had the opportunity to meet with Beth Oakley, Director of the International Student Centre at the University of Windsor, to discuss the importance of hiring individuals who can speak multiple languages within her own department. Oakley’s conversation also involved the significance of what individuals can gain from working for, or utilizing, the services at the  International Student Centre.

Oakley has been the Director of the International Student Centre for over two years and can attest to the benefits of hiring those who have multi-language abilities as “having the ability to relate” and also by “providing comfort through being a friendly face to others who may be new in the area”.

Excellence through Customer Service

According to Oakley, the main jobs that the International Student Centre have that require multi-language capabilities are those that are oriented in customer service as well as administrative work for the department. Oakley notes that the International Student Centre strives to “give excellent customer service to those who do not have English as their native language” so that these individuals can be directed to other services at the University of Windsor such as the Cashier’s Office, Registrar’s Office, and Academic Advising, to name a few.

With over 4,000 students joining the University every year from over 90 countries, hiring those who can speak multiple languages has benefitted the department as students feel included since they receive a personalized and welcoming experience on an individual basis. Those hired for these positions are done through the ​IGNITE Work  Study Program​ at the University of Windsor.

Canadian Workplace Expectations

The International Student Centre has had these jobs for the past 20 years. Hiring individuals who can speak multiple languages has added to the friendly environment established between the department and international students. While the department  is able to ease the transition process for new students in Windsor-Essex, individuals hired with the department also develop strong interpersonal and oratorical  communication skills through understanding the Canadian workplace culture.  Volunteering with the International Student Centre has led to mobility within the organization where individuals are able to gain paid employment opportunities as well.

Cultural Exchange

While also assisting new students studying in Canada for the first time at the University  of Windsor, Oakley wants others to know the importance of studying abroad with the  International Student Centre for domestic students as well. The benefits of travelling  and working abroad have contributed to the development of “self-satisfaction,  secondary language capabilities, and cultural sensitivity”. Students are given this  opportunity to participate in ​Exchange​ during their undergraduate career and are  encouraged to start thinking about this in the first two years of their program.

Additionally, the department organizes an annual event called ​Host for the Holidays​ at  the University of Windsor. This event also gives international students the opportunity  to be paired with a host home from the Windsor-Essex area for Thanksgiving. Oakley  mentions that “information about culture” is exchanged from the host family and  international student and “a sense of community is further developed and  strengthened” as a result of this program.

When asked why she will continue to hire those who can speak multiple languages at  the International Student Centre, Oakley explains that, “there is so much to learn from  these individuals as they contribute diverse perspectives to how information is  conveyed and understood both on and off campus”.

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To read more in our Multilingualism in the Workforce Blog Series, please click here.