Many students consider study abroad for purely personal reasons. They want to enhance their knowledge of the world, meet new people and have an experience they’ll treasure forever. They may want to work on language acquisition, experience true independence for the first time, and see sights they’ve only ever admired in 2-D-form. There are many extraordinary additional benefits to studying abroad that many students don’t think about, however. For one, studying abroad can enhance your career opportunities after you graduate college!
It’s true- many employers in the fields of business, international affairs, education, and others value candidates who have spent some time studying abroad. More and more frequently, your experiences will be brought up in job interviews. If you have not completed a semester or year abroad, you may not be as competitive as a candidate who made the effort to pursue this enriching experience.
But why is studying abroad so valuable to employers? Because your time spent studying abroad will allow you to develop in ways that a student without this experience cannot. You’ll have cross-cultural knowledge, communication skills that transcend national boundaries, and more of a respect and appreciation for other nations. Especially if you intend to work in international business or another field in which successful communication between disparate cultures is essential, you’ll likely be a better candidate for the job than a student who has never overcome the challenges of learning to get by in a country very different from the United States.
Another reason why employers look for those who have completed a study abroad program in foreign language skills. Being able to speak another language is invaluable, more so today than ever before. In international relations, government work, and teaching, knowing another language makes you a more versatile candidate. Future employers will want to have you on their team.
Being new to employment is not unlike staying in a foreign country: at first, it will require a great deal of effort on your part to learn how things work and what is expected of you. Having spent a semester or year studying overseas, you have already proven that you are adaptable. Adaptability is a valuable trait for future employers because it demonstrates that you can easily mold yourself to the varied roles that you may be asked to fill in a company.
Finally, your experiences abroad make you a more interesting and well-rounded candidate. You’ll not only have valuable life experiences that will allow you to relate to more people, but you may have better ideas and more creative solutions as a result of your time abroad.
If you decide to study abroad during college, let your prospective employers know about it. Put it on your resume and bring it up during your interview. Let your prospective employer know how your experiences affected your life and your work.