This story was originally published on the Career & Professional Development Center’s blog, Peaks & Valleys.
It may be a cliché, but surely, you have heard from a friend, a professor or a family member that study abroad is a must while in college. While we totally agree, it is important to delve into why study abroad (we call it “Learning Abroad” here at the U) is such a great opportunity. Here is some solid data:
Set yourself up for success post-college. A 50-year longitudinal study from study abroad provider the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) showed that students who participate in learning abroad saw a variety of benefits:
- Jobs secured more quickly after graduation
- Higher starting salaries, as compared to recent U.S. college graduates
- Higher acceptance into graduate school programs
Furthermore, a recent study from the Institute for International Education (IIE) on Gaining an Employment Edge–The Impact of Study Abroad, showed that learning abroad facilitated the development of 21st-century job skills, especially intercultural and interpersonal competency that have long-term impacts on career progression and promotion.
We love to hear past Learning Abroad participants talk affectionately about their international experience. We talk about ours with the same conviction. What’s more? Studies show that students who learn abroad stand out.
Having a learning abroad experience on your resume shows employers that you are curious, ready to learn and not afraid of treading in uncharted territory. That’s because students who learn abroad acquire valuable skills and qualities sought by employers.
Learning abroad means significantly adjusting your lifestyle and oftentimes mindset to be successful in a new environment and culture. Living, learning and thriving in a different country requires a great deal of mental resilience and flexibility because things are done differently around the world. The day-to-day challenges you are likely to encounter during your learning abroad experience will make you more adaptable and flexible. The ability to look at a problem from another perspective and come up with an outside-the-box solution is highly valued by any organization and learning abroad teaches you exactly that.
Students learning abroad take their communication skills to the next level. Even if you learn abroad in an English-speaking country, you will greatly improve your communication and people skills because you will need to adjust your communication style depending on the new country's customs, traditions and social norms. The way you interacted with professors at the University of Utah may not work in a new environment. Fine-tuning how you collaborate with people will leave you with more advanced communication skills, a crucial professional quality nowadays.
Natalya Kuznetsova, author of “Your Career is a Language Away” claims that exploration of cultures out of your native environment opens up new perspectives, makes you flexible and more analytical, and allows you to think broadly about your professional and personal life. We can only truly understand “self” through encountering the “other.” Studying an academic subject while being immersed in a different environment is a perfect way of expanding your knowledge of yourself, others and the world around you.
According to Forbes, the top skills recruiters are looking for in 2021 are a growth mindset, continuous learning, critical thinking, survival skills, resilience, curiosity and comfort with ambiguity. Each of these qualities can be showcased through a meaningful learning abroad experience. Whether it is a line on your resume or an international experience you tell during an interview for your dream job, learning abroad makes you stand out in an internship or job search by giving you a wealth of very transferrable and in-demand skills, and examples to showcase them.
Most importantly, though, learning abroad truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience filled with exciting moments and memories that you will remember forever.
If we’ve sold you on the reasons for learning abroad, come check out our Fall Learning Abroad Fair on Oct. 6, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Union Ballroom. At the fair you’ll be able to do the following:
- Learn about our different programs directly from the source: faculty directors, affiliate provider reps and exchange institutions.
- Talk to returned students about their experiences and chat with current exchange students from our exchange partner universities around the world.
- Find out about scholarship opportunities and even win a scholarship as a prize.
The fair is free to attend, located right in the center of campus (the Union), and will, best of all, get you started on the track for a meaningful learning abroad experience.