Universities involved in international agricultural development projects often provide scientists with opportunities for long-term foreign assignments from six months to several years. The objectives of this study were to evaluate scientists' perceptions of prior preparation for international positions, benefits and difficulties associated with working overseas, and competitiveness upon return to the U.S. domestic job market. Two-hundred twenty surveys were distributed to faculty and administrators in Agronomy, Animal Science and Agricultural Economics departments at 31 U.S. universities. There was a 60% survey return, and 74% of those who responded had long-term foreign experience. Eighty percent or more of these respondents reported they were well prepared for overseas assignments. Fifty percent of the respondents felt a need for more prior language preparation, and 33% felt more prior background informarion on the host country would have been helpful. The level of support experienced during assignment was high, with less than 20% reporting problem with personal or professional support. More than 70% of the respondents benefitted from experience gained in cultural awareness, farming systems, and applied research. The communication, organization and team research skills developed overseas were considered valuable for returning to the domestic job market. These qualifications were rated among the most important by administrators and faculty who evaluate candidates for domestic academic positions. The most important criteria used to evaluate candidates for domestic U.S. positions (e.g., experience, references, publicalions and seminar) may not highlight these skills. Care must be taken by scientists in foreign assignments to document achievements, maintain professional contacts, and keep up with the latest technical advances in their disciplines. Overall, the surveys indicated that professionals who work for a time overseas greatly benefit from that experience.



international agriculture, international assignments, long term

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