Exploring this Job
A good way to explore this field is to join one of your high school's foreign language clubs. In addition to using the foreign language, these clubs often have activities related to the culture or cultures where the language is spoken. You may also find it helpful to join your school's business club, which will give you an opportunity to learn about business tactics and finances, as well as give you an idea of how to run your own business.
Learn as much as you can about people and life in other parts of the world. You can do this by joining groups such as AFS International (http://www.afsusa.org) and getting to know someone from another country who is attending your school. There are also study-abroad and living-aboard programs you can apply to even while in high school. Organizations such as Rotary International (https://www.rotary.org) and AFS International offer these types of intercultural opportunities for students as well as adults.
Cultural advisers work to bridge gaps in communication and culture. They usually have a second specialty that is complemented by their bilingual skills. For example, a banking and finance expert who has traveled extensively in Japan and is familiar with Japanese language and customs would have the marketable skills to become a cultural adviser for American companies interested in doing business in Japan.
Cultural advisers work in a wide variety of settings. They may hold full-time staff positions with organizations or they may work as independent consultants providing services to a number of clients. Cultural advisers also work in education. They provide translation services and help foreign or immigrant students adjust to a new culture. Colleges and universities that have large international student populations often have cultural advisers on staff.
In industry, cultural advisers train workers in safety procedures and worker rights. The health care industry benefits from the use of advisers to communicate with non-English-speaking patients. Cultural advisers also hold training sessions for health care professionals to teach them how to better understand and instruct their patients.
Large business enterprises that have overseas interests hire cultural advisers to research new markets and help with negotiations. Some advisers work primarily in employment, finding foreign experts to work for American businesses or finding overseas jobs for American workers. In addition to advising American business leaders, cultural advisers sometimes work with foreign entities that want to do business in the United States. They provide English language instruction and training in American business practices.
Cultural advisers also work in the legal system, the media, advertising, the travel industry, social services, and for government agencies. Whatever the setting, they help their clients—foreign and American—understand and respect other cultures and communicate effectively with each other.