Following up on my last guest post with Greek for Me in which I discussed social media, I wrote another piece describing the benefits of studying abroad in relation to employment opportunities.
Studying Abroad: Must-Do for Every College Student, by Barbara Leung
College is often associated with a time of learning and exploration, so it is no wonder that schools encourage students to spend at least a semester abroad. But being away from one’s beloved campus may leave one unsure of the decision to spend the semester abroad; however, there are great reasons to study and live abroad, even if it is for a semester.
It may be unnerving to leave the college campus that you know so well only to find yourself somewhere completely foreign, but do recognize the fact that you will be doing so anyway within your four years of college. And should you pursue a path directly into the workforce into graduation, as opposed to more schooling, you are going to be looking for employment, which can be tough in today’s society. Many employers note that having international experience, whether it is work or study related, can give you an edge in the job hunt. But how?
The reason behind the likening of international experience ties in directly with another reason to study abroad. In living abroad, you are exposed to different cultures and presented a different set of values. Learning to adapt is a soft skill that can be practiced and actively used in your time abroad, along with bettering your social interaction skills in uncomfortable situations. When I lived in France (and I will be again come September), many of my friends and I needed to communicate with the locals in spite of our evidently lacking French skills. There is a certain confidence you develop in such situations, that you wouldn’t be able to harness on your old college campus.
On a more personal level, you often find that you will get to know yourself better when you live in a foreign country. The reason being is that you are removed from your usual group of friends and your habits (e.g. aloofness), while normal on the college campus, can be brought to light in a different community. That heightened self-awareness, when you bring it back to your college and job interviews, is incredibly important as you can better position yourself in certain ways when the situation calls for it (e.g. make more of an effort to be friendlier on first impressions).
With all this discussion on developing skills and broadening global perceptions, don’t forget that studying abroad is fun! The experiences that you share with friends, whether they are new or old, are going to be extremely memorable. Remember, employers also went to college once, and may have studied abroad too. Such can be that door opener, perhaps he studied in the same city as you, for conversation, which allows the employer to learn a little more about you and give you that upper-hand, as he will have both personality and career experience to evaluate come decision time.