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Career Value of Study Abroad
In an increasingly global society, your global learning experience is incredibly salient in the workplace. Check out the information below for information about specific ways studying abroad enhances your resume and professional development.
Compiled through extensive research with employers, these competencies are identified as necessary for students to be career ready upon graduation. Career Readiness is defined as “the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.”
Employers look for a variety of engagement on a student’s resume, including Study Abroad and Volunteering. Studying abroad can provide experiences that contribute to students’ career readiness in a variety of ways. Most specifically in Global and Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.
Your global learning provides unique opportunities to engage with people from other cultures, understand and value our differences, and learn about workplace behavior and expectations in other cultures. The American workplace is a diverse mix of cultures, races, ages, genders and sexual orientations, and many jobs require engaging with people around the world.
Study abroad is not a vacation – through this experience you can engage in a variety of activities – volunteering, interning, language learning and cultural immersion – that will help you build and develop these skills and attributes.
We asked students who studied abroad the things they learned and ways that they chose to build some of these skills:
"I think the skill that I got better at without realizing it, was the ability to keep an open mind about topics, issues, and subjects that I did not know much about. This ranged to everything from topical issues in the news, to cultural practices that I was unaware of. … It was the ability to listen and keep an open mind which helped me understand the cultural differences that exists between being abroad and being back home in the US. (Skills highlighted include Interpersonal Skills, Tactfulness & Initiative)"
-Nick Vipond, Denmark
"Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Many of these skills will be developed when you do something you’re not comfortable with. Also, have confidence in your abilities. You can overcome and manage obstacles/situations more effectively than you think. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and develop your skills when you take on this challenging scenarios".
-Zach Mader, Spain
It’s no secret that learning a second (or third, or fourth) language is a good idea. Besides being one of the top skills employers look for in a resume, speaking other languages opens up a world of possibilities for collaborating and helping people from other countries and cultures.
The best possible way to build fluency in another language is to immerse yourself in a setting where you are surrounded by native speakers. While studying abroad you have the opportunity to live with host families and participate in specific programs that focus on language immersion. Take a history class in Spanish, go on a scavenger hunt in a French market and speak only French.
With language learning naturally comes cultural learning – contributing to your global and intercultural fluency! The many nuances of languages are vastly influenced by history and culture and can provide great skills and insight for working cross cultures.
Several programs have opportunities to incorporate research into your study abroad experience. If you’re thinking about going to graduate school, or just want to pursue your major in greater depth, research is a great resume builder, and doing it while abroad strengthens your global learning experience.
You may need to be flexible with the exact focus of your research, and you may also be able to work with experienced faculty doing field and lab-based research.