Third Culture Professionals (TCPs): Part of the Expat World

Some Background Information

My own experience as an expat and that of observing my children and others in the same environment led me to take note of certain common traits. I began researching expat experiences and found interesting articles and research concerning Third Culture Kids. However, I found less information specialized in adult's exposure and analysis of the benefits of an an overseas experience, especially when looking at the "accompanying partner".

To begin with, what is a Third Culture Kid (TCK)?

The term "Third Culture Kid" was first coined by researchers John and Ruth Useem in the 1950’s.
“A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture”.

From an early age a TCK has been exposed to and has acquired a diverse range of multi-cultural skills. Positive advantages include that of communication either in several languages or via communication such as platforms (they are savvy when it comes to the latest online communication tools), change management and problem solving. It is interesting to note that some ex TCK’s have become prominent leaders in industry and politics.

Of course, saying all that, life as a TCK can also have its drawbacks, a sense of not knowing which culture they belong to. Because of this, they seek out their proper identity as well as finding their place and a sense of belonging in an environment which is not theirs or that of their parents. This quest and determination to integrate, can forge personalities that are resourceful and creative.

Therefore, who are Third Culture Professionals (TCP’s)?

TCP’s are part of the Expat World. He/she can be a person on an assignment abroad or an accompanying partner. I define “TCP” as a group of career orientated professionals who have experience of working and or/living abroad in a culture that is different to their homeland culture. Subsequently, TCP’s have developed intercultural and new skills that are an asset for a globally diverse world and workplace.

Link between TCK’s and TCP’s

In the coming articles, I will look at common traits between both these groups and how these traits can be identified and maximized for future self-growth and fulfillment, leading to career potential and opportunities. 

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