IFSA | August 26, 2021
Studying abroad has been a rite of passage for students for many years, offering a host of benefits and life-changing experiences. An opportunity to study abroad is filled with countless personal benefits—a chance to expand your cultural understanding, hone your foreign language skills, see the world, and share unforgettable moments. And in today’s globalized economy, studying abroad is also filled with career opportunities to help you gain an employment edge.
International studies can help you become a savvy professional equipped to succeed in a global marketplace. Even if you don’t intend to work for an international employer or are unsure of your career goals, studying abroad can help you develop skills that all employers value. Developing skills such as resourcefulness, adaptability, resilience, and empathy are advantageous in any job market.
How exactly can studying abroad help you find professional success? The following are just a few benefits that studying abroad will lend to your career.
1. Cross-Cultural Communication Skills
Communication skills are one of the most highly-valued assets for any business. Study abroad takes communication skills to another level, giving you the ability to master cross-cultural communication skills.
You’ll also learn how to communicate in various scenarios efficiently and become adept at deciphering facial expressions, body language, and gestures to successfully understand others and communicate your own opinions, needs, and questions.
Studying abroad will also improve other aspects of your communication skills, including presenting and public speaking, negotiating, academic writing, and non-verbal communication. It’s an excellent way to gain more awareness and appreciation about diversity—a tremendous strength for your professional and personal life.
2. Global Connections
Students who study abroad are bound to make new connections, many that will last a lifetime. Many of those connections will likely be from different countries. Developing that global network of contacts can provide many career benefits.
Maintaining connections with people from around the world can be a great way to help achieve your long-term career goals, and you will also get to experience a range of cultures and customs.
3. Highly Developed Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Abilities
Moving to another country includes leaving your built-in support systems and learning how to solve things independently. Studying abroad can liberate you and help you grow outside your comfort zone.
The maturity you gain from studying abroad will transfer to your career, providing you with the initiative to independently accomplish tasks and give your manager confidence in your abilities, thus demonstrating another career-boosting benefit.
4. World View
Exposure to different cultures is another benefit to students who choose to enroll in a study abroad program. The ability to see things from a world perspective is essential to many businesses today, making study abroad students even more attractive during the hiring process. Cultural knowledge is a valuable skill due to the global economy. Exposure to a wide variety of cultures, opinions, and beliefs are just what international businesses seek.
5. Personal Development
Experience with different cultures, ideas, and diverse ways of thinking can help many students learn more about who they are as an individual. In essence, a study abroad program helps students discover who they are and build on those findings. Instead of maintaining beliefs and concepts only from their native country, students can take the best parts of each culture and the favorite parts from each society to shape themselves for the future.
Employers seek confident employees, and fortunately, one of the advantages of studying abroad is that it can enhance your career by boosting your self-confidence. International study abroad demonstrates to employers that you had the confidence and bravery to go to a foreign country, learn a new language, and flourish in a new culture and lifestyle.
Overcoming the challenges that studying abroad presents will help you mature, learn how to thrive in new circumstances, and gain self-reliance and resilience—all desired attributes in business. The improvement of other skills such as language, communication, adapting to unexpected situations, and leadership will also help you be more confident.
7. Foreign Language Skills
For students who study in a country where the native language is not their own, being immersed in an environment where a different language is spoken can be beneficial. Complete immersion into another language often proves the fastest way for students to learn. Through conversations with native speakers, you will learn how to pick up accents, colloquialisms, and idioms.
Students with crucial language skills are highly desirable to employers, especially those fluent in two or more languages. It also helps you become a more culturally sensitive person. Having cultural knowledge of how different countries work, their traditions, and how society runs can be highly esteemed.
8. Employment Opportunities at Higher Salaries
According to a study done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), about 49 percent of the general population of recent graduates finds a job within 12 months of graduation, compared to 97 percent of study abroad alumni. Their salaries are also higher. The average starting salary for a 2014 graduate was $45,478, but graduates with international experience were approximately $7,000 per year more.
9. Gain a Competitive Edge
With only a small percentage of the entire US student population going abroad to study, studying abroad on your resume will help you gain a significant competitive edge in the fierce job market that awaits after graduation. Prospective employers will be impressed with your interest in diversity and international issues. Study abroad also demonstrates many other traits that potential employers may find valuable—open-mindedness, initiative and leadership capability, willingness to step outside their comfort zone, maturity, independence, flexibility, curiosity, and self-reliance.
There are myriad reasons to study abroad, including significant career advantages. Read first-hand accounts from students who lived the IFSA experience on Student Stories. Your future self will thank you!