Study abroad is chock full of adventures and memories, but what if we told you that study abroad is a huge investment in your career? It’s true! Study abroad opens the door to skill-building and career development opportunities that look great on a resume. In fact, 90% of study abroad graduates find employment within six months of earning a degree, regardless of their chosen career field versus the 49% of college graduates that didn’t study abroad who find employment within 12 months of graduation. You can’t argue with those odds, right?!
We know you can’t go abroad right now, but we’re confident student travel will be up and running again soon, so don’t let your motivation to study abroad fizzle away. Plus, you can still gain many of these skills from participating in online study abroad courses and internships. Keep reading to discover how study abroad can boost your career success.
You Will Develop “Soft” Skills
Simply choosing to live abroad will help you grow as a person. You’ll gain more confidence and independence, as well as adaptability and quick thinking, without even realizing it. If you choose to study abroad in a location where English is not the native language, you’ll develop interpersonal communication skills as you learn to communicate with locals despite the language barrier. Even if you study abroad in an English-speaking country, you’ll grow to be more open, tolerant, patient (with yourself and others) as you navigate a new culture. The best part is, you’ll likely develop these skills without trying to. But when employers see “study abroad” on a resume, these things come to mind, signifying a well-rounded applicant.
You Can Learn a Second Language
Did you know that you can complete up to two years of language requirements in just one semester abroad? USAC Specialty programs offer both intensive and less intensive language courses and tracks in the local language, so you’ll be able to learn at whatever pace works best for you. The knowledge of a second language, even if you aren’t fluent, is becoming more and more important in most fields. Whether you’re in business or health or any other field, the ability to speak to patients/clients/customers in their native language will form a deeper connection and can help you accomplish your goals more quickly — all wins for you and your employer.
You Can Gain a Global Perspective Through Unique Courses
Whether you study abroad on one of USAC’s 53 programs or participate in our online courses you’ll be taking classes from top professors around the world. This means you’ll experience different teaching styles and get exposure to an international education that isn’t available at your home university. This type of learning takes adaptability and open-mindedness. You’ll also learn to engage with people from all over the world which will deepen your cultural understanding and empathy for other cultures. While taking a course in another country is ideal, online courses can still provide an international perspective and provide an intercultural experience.
You Can Actually Work in Your Field of Choice
Many students choose to get hands-on experience by adding an internship to their study abroad. Internships are a great way to learn from professionals while adding a foreign perspective to your current knowledge, which is a win-win. USAC offers a variety of internships at most Specialty program sites, including:
- General Skill-Based Internships: These placements don’t require prior experience or specialized skills, and they are intended to provide students with a better understanding of the field, emphasizing intercultural communication and development of professional skills applicable to a wide variety of professional environments.
- Discipline-Specific Internships: These placements are intended for advanced students seeking an in-depth professional experience in a specialized career field. They require prior experience and knowledge of the field and are intended to provide students with the opportunity to further develop these skills and knowledge through applied practice.
- Research Internships: These are project-based placements suitable for students in the sciences or other research-based fields who are looking to develop knowledge in research methodology and practice. Students will work under the close supervision of the site supervisor and will assist with projects as assigned.
- Virtual Internships: These are designed for students who are unable to physically go abroad because of current travel restrictions. Earn three credits while exploring your future career interests by working online with businesses and organizations that are based at our Specialty Program locations around the world. Interns will complete a minimum of 120 work hours remotely during U.S. working hours. You’ll gain professional work experience, learn more about a future career field, and develop an appreciation for the workplace culture of your placement country.
Like in the U.S., an internship on your resume demonstrates a higher level of experience and knowledge of your chosen field, but an internship with an international company also encompasses those soft skills we mentioned above (and often a higher language proficiency, too). Bonus: internships give students a chance to network with professionals in their chosen field, opening doors to opportunities to return to your host country to work again in the future!
You Can Gain Experience While Giving Back
If you can’t complete an internship during your study abroad, that’s okay! Many programs offer volunteer opportunities to help students develop a deeper connection with their host culture while giving back to their local community. From volunteering a local school helping children learn English to forest restoration and cleanup events, there are plenty of ways you can get your hands dirty and develop stronger interpersonal communication, language proficiency, and other on-the-“job” skills. Plus, volunteering shows generosity and altruism, which is a bonus.
Adding Study Abroad to Your Resume
Now that you’ve considered all the career benefits of study abroad, you need to put it all down on paper. “But how do I convey an experience as indescribably as study abroad?” you might be asking. Well, consider everything you did during your time abroad. You can add your experience under the education, skills, and experience sections of your resume and break each piece down in bullet points as needed. Include courses that are relevant to the job you’re applying for and be sure to include any foreign language courses you completed.
Reflect on those hard skills and decide which ones are relevant to the job you’re applying for (hint: look at the job description as you brainstorm). Does the employer require strong budgeting and money-management skills, or are they looking for someone who can communicate effectively to a wide range of people? Consider what is most important to the role you’re applying for and jot those down, but don’t overwhelm your resume with a sea of adjectives just to look more impressive. Be concise but impactful.
Second, break down your internship or volunteer roles into hard skills and responsibilities to give the employer an idea of what you learned on the job. Short, bulleted statements like “Curated content in French for the company’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels” or “Completed patient surveys in Spanish daily to understand symptoms of current health condition and collaborated with nurses and doctors to determine diagnosis and treatment regimen” are great examples of concrete responsibilities you managed on the job. Again, consider what is relevant to the position you are applying for and be prepared to expand on your notes as needed.
Boost Your Career with Study Abroad
So, there you have it! Study abroad is much more than a vacation in a foreign country. The experiences you have and the skills you learn can – and will – help you land that job after graduation. Think of study abroad as an academic and professional investment towards your future. When in doubt, our alumni team is here to help. Visit our Career Resources page for tips on incorporating your study abroad experience into your resume and how to leverage it during interviews.
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