How an International Experience Can Impact Your Career
Being exposed to many cultures, businesses and experiences is one of the ways today’s students can aim for top jobs in their future careers. No longer is it enough to understand college-level materials and have a degree. Even an engaging personality will not surpass the growing need most companies feel for hiring those with an eye toward the global marketplace. Many top universities advise students to take full advantage of traditional study abroad programs or newer multi-country study abroad opportunities in order to gain some of the following benefits:
Cultural Familiarity and Acceptance
Exposure to another culture in traditional study abroad programs is beneficial for students seeking a future career in a world that seems to be losing all borders with regards to business. Complete immersion into another culture for a single semester or for multiple semesters gives students the ability to live as those in the area do, learning about their values, politics and work ethics. Foreign language skills tend to be greatly enhanced as well.
However, some students opt for shorter-term study abroad experiences that offer the ability to study in multiple countries. The chance to experience many cultures in one trip may help students to realize just how many unique and wonderful parts of the world exist. Students learn to appreciate the unique and amazing parts to each culture.
A new report titled World of Experience has been compiled by the British Council. In this report, it was revealed that almost 50% of students who spent time in a study abroad program were able to go on to careers built on innovation such as product improvement, development and research. Only ¼ of students who did not undertake a study abroad program were able to attain the same level of career.
This might be due to the multitude of unique experiences by the study abroad group. These include the chance to live in a foreign land, the challenge of figuring out everyday life without the convenience of home and the ability to extend well past personal comfort zones in achieving goals set by their study abroad program.
Upgraded People Network
It is almost impossible for students to spend large amounts of time in a different country without making lifelong friends and business associates. This international network can be called upon in future years as students transition into careers. While students are learning about cultural differences, they are most likely learning to appreciate the fact that each culture has many valuable parts, making the people they meet and interact with in each location valued associates. And the association typically goes both ways as individuals from other countries also benefit from friendships they form with students.
Not many jobs today are done by individuals who do not know how to adapt and change. Students who have participated in study abroad programs have typically spent months learning to adapt. From learning to communicating in an entirely new language to daily survival skills – flexibility is key. This skill, learned in a sink-or-swim environment, is one that is carried through the rest of an individual’s life. This skill is one that may lead future employers to one resume out of hundreds. Once hired, the valuable ability to bend, change and adapt can make the difference in an incomplete job and a job well done.
Leadership skills look different depending on what part of the world individuals are in. Learning about these differences can help students to know that good leadership does not always mean the type they are most familiar with. Instead, gaining more understanding about acceptable styles of leadership and team management often helps students to attain leadership positions in future careers due to the understanding gained in a study abroad program.
Attention to Detail
Even preparing to attend a study abroad program requires students to develop the ability to pay attention to even the finest details. This detail-oriented mentality is yet another of the benefits of gaining international experience. From filling out paperwork properly to ensuring that visa or passport document deadlines are met, there is a very real challenge for some students to meet each deadline or requirement. Once the traditional or multi-country study abroad program begins, there is still a great need for focus and attention. Students learn that every part of the experience has value, not only the time spent in a classroom environment.
Students around the world have already benefited from study abroad programs, and many students will continue to grow, learn and gain experiences that are sure to benefit a future career. Though students may end up surprised by some of the benefits, future employers may be looking for such experiences.