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.
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”.
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: