I Haven't Been Abroad Yet..
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.
In 2017, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) released a list of eight “Career Competencies.” 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.
Check out the graphic above to see how some of the skills you’ll be building while abroad will directly relate to career competence. We’ve also got some suggestions from UST Study Abroad Returnees, on why it’s important to engage with your host culture while abroad:
“My first thought was [to do it] as a sign of respect. This country is hosting you and like any good guest, one would and should abide by the rules of their host. Along with that, it allows to deeper engagement with those who live in that country. It is far less intimidating to connect inter-culturally if the two participates are willing to engage with one another.”
-Anthony Tran-Vu, London
All opinions aside, engaging with your host culture is where the “real” learning outside the classroom takes place. It can be one of the most rewarding experiences of you let it be. It is something you can come home to try to describe to your friends and family, but can never fully capture unless you learn how and why other people live the way they do.
-Nick Vipond, Denmark
Students who study abroad have the opportunity to build a variety of skills and attributes that are valuable to employers. Below you see a chart of the top 20 Skills employers seek on a candidate’s resume, as gathered from NACE in 2018.
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
Best way to build new skills?
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.
Beyond taking classes while you’re abroad, did you know you can also complete an internship or do research? Many students struggle with fitting global learning into their college experience due to so many time demands – classes, involvement, internships, research (and more) are all important experiences to have on your resume. BUT, you don’t have to sacrifice studying abroad to do an internship or research!
Internship and research experience is valuable no matter how you look at it. Employers identify global and intercultural fluency as one of the key career competencies for graduates. Conducting research abroad builds valuable skills for the workplace and/or graduate school, and provides a deeper onsite immersion into your chosen subject. Both opportunities add an extra level of learning and cultural immersion, a look at your host country unique to truly living there.
Building a resume with good internship and/or work experiences is important – but so is studying abroad and intercultural immersion. You shouldn’t have to choose between the two!
Several programs through the Office of Study Abroad offer internship opportunities for academic credit. Following the application process, you will work with your program to identify options in your area of interest. There will be an interview, and the internship site must accept you, but your program will identify placement options and facilitate the process.
In the Spring of 2019, St. Thomas will launch the Shanghai Business Semester program, which integrates an internship into your study abroad experience. For more information, visit this website
Career Development can help just as we would for a domestic job search – getting your resume and cover letter in order, and brushing up on interviewing skills. Call (651)-962-6761 or stop by MHC 123 to make an appointment!
Check out Study Abroad’s website to find programs with internship components, and meet with a study abroad advisor to find out what programs might be the best fit for you.
With the world of work becoming more and more culturally diverse, and many organizations working across borders, intercultural competence is essential to being career ready. Interning in another country provides you with an opportunity to learn about and engage with people from different cultures and fields, and provide you with an immersive cultural learning experience unlike any other.
Your study abroad advisor will explain how to get courses approved for credit during your advising meeting. It’s also a good idea to talk to your Faculty Advisor prior to choosing an international internship program. You may be able to apply credits directly to your degree program, or have them count for experiential learning credit.
Guidelines for experiential learning and internship credits can be found on the Registrar’s Website
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.