Does growing up as a Third Culture Kid affect the career trajectory of individuals? This is one of the commonly asked questions that we have recognized in this project series, Thriving Thursdays Third Culture Kids. Many people wonder to what extent the exposure to diverse environments influences the professional choices and interests of TCKs. Melanija Krstić, a young career driven TCK, is currently in her final semester of her bachelor’s in Business and Economics in Austria. She is also the campus director of Hult Prize WU Vienna. During the collaboration between Raw Culture and SIETAR Austria for the series “Thriving Thursday – Third Culture Kids: Beyond and Between Borders”, Melanija shared her story of exploring diverse cultures and revealed to what extent the life as a TCK has influenced her professional path.
Pros and Cons
Melanija has her roots in Serbia but moved to Geneva at the age of 12, where she attended an international school for four years. Having the opportunity to go to an international school is often considered a benefit due to being able to gain universal education and being exposed to this global environment. Yet, Melanija felt less international relative to her peers, which created cultural and linguistic barriers. When she was 16, her family moved together to England until she moved to Vienna to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics with an emphasis on Finance and Economics.
Exploring new countries and cultures is a privilege to a lot of people, however, for the young TCK, leaving friends and building a new life all over again along with the lack of attachment to one specific culture are the biggest downsides of her experience. On the contrary, being a TCK has brought a lot of advantages with respect to growth and development as it enhanced being more open-minded and acceptant towards other people.
The Relation between TCK and Career Choices
Building up soft skills such as intercultural cognizance, communication, language abilities, and mediation does not require a TCK background. Nonetheless, for Melanija, these skills complemented her hard skills concerning her interests, such as in Math. However, being a TCK has not impacted her actual career trajectory or her interest in a certain sector. Her competencies have been strengthened owning to her intercultural upbringing, but it did not play a significant role in choosing her professional path.
Being curious about diverse and new aspects is another component that many Third Culture Kids share, for example Melanija, who desired to explore new opportunities at her university, and joined Hult WU. She started as PR manager and now leads this project as the campus director. The Hult Prize is an international competition for teams of three to four students who pitch their start-ups to a board of global judges. It is an international movement with over 1,200 universities, which compete in four rounds for 1 million dollars for their start-ups. The requirements for the start-ups are to target sustainable development goals. Melanija initiated the Hult WU movement at her university together with eight people with the aim of creating an on-campus competition with judges and the winners move to the regional round to compete for the next step.
Being a TCK can greatly enhance intercultural competencies, yet it also involves many challenges. How can one overcome these obstacles and the lack of belonging? Melanija suggested finding your support system when being faced with this uncertainty that one feels in terms of people, places, or cultures. In particular, when she was faced with language barriers, she seeks comfort and support from her family. Moreover, take advantage of the situation and explore the different dimensions and new things that you are granted with. Oftentimes, we need to explore the depths of each place, country, and culture to discover the beauty in it.
“Real cultural diversity results from the interchange of ideas, products, and influences, not from the insular development of a single national style.” –Tyler Cowan.
SIETAR Austria and Raw Culture greatly appreciate and want to express gratitude to Melanija Krstić for participating in this journey of spreading awareness of Third Culture Kids and sharing her personal TCK story.
You can find more information about Melanija Krstić at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melanija-krsti%C4%87-0655421a2/?originalSubdomain=at
Furthermore, we are grateful to Weirong Li, founder and CEO of Raw Culture, for working to increase the value of diverse cultures.
References and Sources:
Information about Hult Prize:
YouTube Link to Expert Talk with Melanija Krstić:
Information about Raw Culture’s Community for TCKs:
Get early access to Raw Culture’s TCK job platform here: https://bit.ly/3iImXXg
Cover image link: https://edspired.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/peoplearoundtheworld.jpg