Getting Ahead

Getting Ahead by Going Abroad: How Study Abroad Contributes to Career Development

In today’s global marketplace, college graduates need more than just a degree. They need career connections, a dedication to learning practical and applicable skills during college, and the ability to articulate their experiences.

What makes students who have studied abroad stand out from the rest? Study abroad students prove time and time again that they are adaptable and sensitive to cross-cultural issues, which is a prized skill for employers even if they do not conduct business internationally.

Whether or not employers are specifically looking for students who have studied overseas, they still may seek candidates who can thrive in a multicultural and multiethnic environment. Having lived abroad will help your student differentiate him or herself from other applicants. Education Abroad carefully selects its administered and co-sponsored programs to allow students the opportunity to integrate within their host society and, in many cases, study alongside students from other cultures.

Of the 260,327 US students who studied abroad in 2008-2009, 37% participated in internships or other forms of practical work experience in addition to taking courses. These experiences provide evidence of multicultural skill building on a resume or in an interview.

Many employers use behavior-based interviewing, in which the candidate is asked to describe situations in which he or she had to deal with certain issues or to demonstrate certain skills. Studying abroad will give students unlimited experiences to draw from for these interview questions. With the numerous opportunities available for IU students to participate in academic year, semester, or summer programs, students of all majors can find an option to help them gain the skills and strengths valued by employers.

Once they return to campus, students have the opportunity to further expand upon their experiences abroad through involvement with Education Abroad. Our reentry workshop helps students understand how their new skills and international perspectives will help them to continue to grow in their academic lives and eventually their careers. They can continue to refine the skills they gained abroad and develop additional interpersonal skills by serving as contacts for future study abroad students and by working in our office as peer counselors.

Originally published in CampusLink, IU Parent's Association newsletter, Fall 2011