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What are the career advantages of studying abroad?

EHL Insights
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Studying abroad is presumed to harbor a lifetime of benefits – some would argue it has the power to change your life – but how exactly can studying abroad boost your career?

 

Tangible career advantages

The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad), has linked studying abroad to increased hirability, a faster transition into career-relevant employment post-graduation, higher starting salaries, as well as higher acceptance into grad school. Specifically, the 2012 IES Abroad Recent Graduate Study found that:

  • Some 84% of survey respondents felt that studying abroad helped them develop valuable job skills.
  • Almost 90% secured a job within six months of graduating.
  • College graduates who studied abroad on IES Abroad programs reported higher earnings than the comparable general cohort of US college graduates – earning USD 7,000 more on average.
  • 90% got into their first or second choice graduate or professional school.

Meanwhile, the Erasmus Student Network’s 2012 and 2013 Impact Study reported that:

  • 64% of employers value international experience and consider it important for recruitment.
  • Students who study abroad are less likely to suffer from long-term unemployment.

The makings of a good hire

The University of California, Merced, has compiled an overview of statistics underscoring the career advantages of studying abroad. The message that shines through is that having a period of study abroad on your CV signals certain attributes to employers that may make you a better hire. These are a combination of virtues that make it more likely for you to choose to study abroad in the first place and skills you may develop during the respective stay:

Likely virtues of those who choose to study abroad

Attributes and skills likely to be honed while studying abroad

  • a courageous spirit
  • a willingness to learn
  • a challenge-seeking attitude
  • open-mindedness
  • commitment
  • curiosity
  • language skills
  • social skills
  • self-confidence
  • communication and collaboration
  • independence and maturity
  • adaptability and flexibility
  • self-reliance and resilience
  • global mindedness

 

Network optimization

Alongside being correlated with or conducive to the desirable qualities listed above, studying abroad gives students the opportunity to develop their network of contacts beyond national borders. With friendships forged during this period likely to be meaningful in nature, these connections may prove fruitful in terms of career development.

 

Job satisfaction

Studying abroad may also impact later career choices. Students have been found to develop a better understanding of their own personal and professional values while studying abroad, which puts them in better stead to choose a career that is likely to yield job satisfaction. In new environments abroad, students may discover new fields of interest that could lead them to more fulfilling career paths. This is especially valid if greater flexibility is afforded to the subjects pursued during semesters abroad as part of university policy. In what was an impressive longitudinal study spanning 50 years conducted by IES Abroad, 62% of respondents said “studying abroad ignited an interest in a career direction pursued after the experience”.

 

Relativizing factors

In line with the above findings, the QS Global Employer Survey 2011 reports that a majority of employers value an international study experience when recruiting graduates ­­– the global weighted average being 60% affirmative, with developed European countries topping the charts. However, the report encourages us to bear in mind relativizing factors, such as labor market conditions and the reputational effects of students’ educational institutions, and points out that the career advantages of studying abroad are not evenly spread across industries.

The industries most found to be seeking international experience were:

  1. Energy (71%)
  2. Travel, leisure and hospitality (64%)
  3. Electronics and high technology (64%)
  4. Consulting and professional services (63%)
  5. Fast moving consumer goods (63%)

 

Should you wish to take advantage of the benefits of studying abroad, allow EHL to guide the way. Whether it be a comprehensive overview to consider as part of your decision-making process, top ten rankings of places to study abroad in the world, in Europe and in Asia, or tips to help you get over the study abroad jitters, we’ve got you covered.

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