Are you currently asking yourself if you should study abroad? And, more importantly, where should you study abroad? This article aims to explain the benefits of studying abroad, what you should consider when choosing a study abroad country, program and university and how it can help you land your dream international career.
Planning and building an international career takes time and effort. Employers place a high value on previous international exposure, which can be obtained through various means such as traveling, studying abroad, completing a study abroad placement or internship, or even taking a gap year. It is crucial to develop an overseas resume that is diverse and reflects your unique experiences and willingness to travel and work in multicultural environments. Above all, whilst gaining international experience for your resume and securing your future international career, be sure to enjoy the journey!
- How can study abroad help your career?
- Employers value international experience
- Why should you study abroad?
- What are the advantages of studying abroad?
- Where should I study abroad?
- What are the best programs that allow you to study abroad?
- How to choose the right university to study abroad?
How does a study abroad program help your career?
International experience contributes to increasing employment opportunities, even more so if you can include international internships in your program of study. Coming to the table with hands-on work experience in different parts of the world as well as a history of navigating a number of different cultures opens doors in the hospitality industry, as well as for many international jobs in other industries. Your international experience helps to position yourself to potential employers as an adaptable global contender who embraces new challenges and seeks out opportunities for growth.
When you finish your study abroad program and return home, you will return with a new perspective on culture, language skills, a great education, and a willingness to learn. Needless to say, all of these are very attractive to future employers.
Many students find that they love their host country so much that they decide to seek work there. If you can relate, you will find that a local education will be valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.
Employers value international experience
In today’s world of interconnected economies and supply lines between countries, employers are looking to hire people who are knowledgeable about international trends and are comfortable dealing with people from diverse cultures. Reinforcing the importance of international studies when pursuing a global management career.
Indeed, based on responses from 10,000 hiring managers and CEOs in 116 nations, the QS Global employer survey found that 60% of respondents said they do "value an international study experience". What's more, the “Employability and Study Abroad” survey conducted by Hostelworld, revealed over a third (41%) of employers surveyed would consider offering a higher salary to a job candidate who has studied abroad. The Hostelword study also found that 23.3% of hiring managers would select the candidate who studied abroad, when debating between two potential new hires.
Why should you study abroad?
Study abroad to build skills and knowledge, prepare to solve the world’s toughest challenges, and compete in the 21st century workforce.
As a future global leader, you need to feel at home in a fast-changing world. By studying abroad, you will experience new perspectives, learn how to navigate different cultures, work with diverse peers, and communicate in other languages.
Whether you are a future innovator, entrepreneur, manager or leader, these are the skills that will prepare you to solve the world’s toughest challenges, make you more competitive in the job market, and transform you into a responsible, engaged citizen.
An international experience should be part of your education, whatever your goals, socioeconomic status, or field of study.
What are the advantages of studying abroad?
1. Learn a new language
Learning a new language can be an enriching experience from all points of view. Business and commerce, service-oriented functions, today every business from the multinationals to SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises), are increasingly international in scope.
Mastering a foreign language can make you a more attractive candidate for an interesting job. Besides the professional and economic rewards, knowing a foreign language brings a lot personal satisfaction, broadens your sources of information and cultural experience.
2. Learn to adapt to a new culture and environment
One of the biggest advantages of studying abroad for many international students is the chance to become immersed in a totally different environment.
The world is changing rapidly and people are increasingly mobile, either by choice or by necessity. Even people who have always lived in the same place all their lives can see the socio-cultural environment changing around them.
If you want to be successful in your chosen career, you will have to become adaptable to change and to diverse cultures.
Living in a foreign culture will train your adaptability. For instance, while living abroad you’ll be able to try new foods, hear traditional music, have a go at local activities and explore everything else your host culture has to offer.
3. Make new friends
No matter where you go to university, you’re sure to meet lots of new people and make new friends who are all in the same position as you. When you study abroad, you have a unique opportunity to make friends with people from all kinds of different cultures, and learn about other countries and customs.
Many lifelong friendships start at university, and you’ll be able to live, learn and travel together during your studies. It can also be hugely beneficial to know people in different countries around the world – especially after you graduate!
4. International travel
As well as experiencing the culture of your study destination, you will also be able to travel to other nearby countries.
Studying abroad is therefore a unique opportunity to see more of the world, which is itself a hugely rewarding educational experience. There is no doubt that seeing other parts of the world will greatly affect your character and worldview, and help you prepare for life in a global world.
5. Personal development
Going abroad to study can also jump start your personal development in many ways. There is no substitute for firsthand experience, and diving into a new environment is a great way to gain new insights about yourself, and to grow on a personal level. The “soft skills” and self-confidence you will develop in this way are highly sought after by international recruiters as well as graduate school admission boards, and are one of the keys to success in your future career.
6. Grow your soft skills
Soft skills or people skills are highly important in business, yet schools do not always focus on emotional intelligence as part of their curriculum.
Travelers can build up their people skills through exposure to other cultures and through the often-humbling process of trying to navigate an unfamiliar land and culture with less-than-perfect-language skills. In other countries, the usual way of doing things that you relied on at home may not work, so you will need to try something new. This builds flexibility in your approach, so you have a range of different options to try when you encounter a problem.
7. Expand your network
Study abroad expands your circle and network of colleagues, which helps when seeking opportunities in different markets. The connections made between students, faculty members, and others can beef up your portfolio and position your resume for quick consideration. A strong and active international alumni network is one of the most important things you will keep long after your studies have ended.
8. Enhance your education
Studying in a different part of the world can be exciting. It exposes you to different styles of learning, customs and opportunities. You gain a new perspective on how the rest of the world operates. This educational experience will definitely give you a head start in the hospitality industry.
9. Get new ideas
One side effect of spending time in a new culture, where everything is outside of your daily routine, is increased creativity. When everything is different from what you expect, you gain a new perspective on your habits, routines, beliefs, and ideas. This can lead directly to new ideas about your career, creative projects, or personal insights that make you a better business person.
Where should I study abroad?
Chances are that you’ve already thought about a specific place where you would like to move and study. Even if you don’t know where to start from, you might want to do some research, checking countries and cities that have the most or all the desired traits, whether it’s the type of study program, the facilities, the transport, living cost, or weather.
Nevertheless, if one of your main criteria is geography, you should try and narrow it down using other pertinent factors, such as career opportunities, financial options or application requirements. If you haven’t thought about researching the location, it may be best to effectively reduce the search to a handful of possibilities.
What are the best places to study abroad?
- Top 10 places in the world to study abroad
- Top 10 places in Europe to study abroad
- Top 10 places in Asia to study abroad
Criteria to choose a study abroad location
If you can think of a country where you want to study, you can probably find a study abroad program to accommodate you. With so many options, you will want to consider what you’re looking to gain before you choose a country.
1. Language in the country where you study abroad
One of the most popular reasons to study abroad is to learn or practice a foreign language. If you are studying a foreign language, choosing a country where you can learn that language through immersion is an excellent reason to study abroad.
Your level of proficiency in the language will not matter. A placement test will determine at what level you will start. Generally, you will have to complete some initial coursework in the language before you start the language courses.
2. Culture where you study abroad
If improving your foreign language skills is not one of your study abroad goals, you might want to consider a country whose culture interests you. Even if you do not speak or are not studying the language, the option to study in a non-English speaking country is still feasible. Many foreign universities offer programs in which a variety of courses are taught in English.
Wanting to learn firsthand about the history, politics, and economics of a country is a great reason to choose a country to study abroad.
3. Environment of your study abroad program
Possibly one of the most overlooked factors is the actual environment in which you want to study. Remember that you’ll be living in the country for a year in most cases. If the language isn’t a barrier or consideration, consider what different countries can offer you regarding your goals and needs for studying abroad.
Some aspects to consider are geological and geographical locations. This includes whether the university is in a major urban center, suburb or rural area; what the local weather conditions will be like year-round; if the country will benefit you in your course of studies; and if you are even permitted to travel there!
When you’ve decided on a country you should definitely talk to students who lived in that country– preferably students who studied through the same study abroad program. Their insight and experience will indicate what you can expect. Whatever country you choose, when you study abroad you are guaranteed an exciting learning opportunity.
What are the best programs that allow you to study abroad?
What you want to study will have a big impact on your choice of university. Some big universities have almost all subjects. If you are interested in a specific topic you will need to apply for a specialized school which will narrow down your study abroad options.
But what if you don’t know what you want to study? Then go back and think about what you want to achieve, what career you want to have.
If you are planning to take an entire degree program abroad you need to put a lot of thought into what you want to study. Here are some things you should consider:
- What are you good at?
If you already have skills in a specific area you will most likely have an easier time studying it and be more successful working within that field. However, don’t dismiss the fields where you lack ability just yet; you’ll be able to build them during your studies - it is a place to learn, after all.
- What interests you? What are your passions?
List the fields of study that interest you, and come up with a list of courses you would consider studying based on these interests. Add the topics that you were most interested in during school as well as jobs that you envied others for. If you are passionate about something you will be more motivated to learn and you will enjoy your future job more.
- What are the career prospects?
Look at the career prospects of the course before selecting one. Consider various factors such as income, job security, stress, responsibility, and other benefits while researching a profession. Finding out if a future employer will invest in your education is also useful.
- What is the curriculum like?
To avoid making mistakes, make sure you review the course outline of the course(s) you want to apply for. Have a look at the subjects you must undertake and the types of learning, assignments, and examination tasks involved. This will enable you to form a rough idea of what lies ahead for you.
How to choose the right university to study abroad?
Choosing the right university to study abroad is one of the first and most important decisions a young adult needs to make. The following tips might be useful:
1. University Location and Internationality
Do you want to be close to home, in a neighboring city, or in an entirely new country? There may be a comfort level to staying in your city or state, but studying abroad is a chance to experience the world in a brand new way. Linked to the location, the percentage of international students is also to be considered here, as we become an increasingly global economy and that can have a significant impact on one’s career.
2. University Size
The size of a school can impact everything from your social life to academic and internship opportunities. Smaller college campuses offer a greater sense of community and less competition for classes, internships, and other clubs and amenities. You will not only get to know all your classmates, but you will also be more than just a face in the crowd to teachers and advisers who, in larger schools, can easily get overwhelmed and lose track of who is who.
3. Field of Study & Employability
You may not know exactly what you want to do after graduating so choosing a field of study that strengthens your analytical and research skills, develops your leadership and managerial potential, and opens a lot of doors can be an appropriate choice. For hospitality enthusiasts, combining solid knowledge with technical understanding, practical experience within a hands-on environment offers the key elements for a successful career.
When choosing a major, employability is an important consideration. If college has always been a route to better jobs, some majors are better equipped than others to encourage your entry into the working world. Networking opportunities, professional projects, internships, and career fairs are all elements that can set you off to a good start.
Also consider whether the school’s alumni network is organized, and active and recruits current students. It can definitely be an essential contact point, and provide valuable support and advice internationally.
4. Academic Reputation
The perceived academic reputation of a school and its accreditation is an important factor for employers when reviewing a job applicant's educational history and it should therefore be important for you.
With globalization, this element may need to be considered differently, and choosing a school with international or multiple accreditations is increasingly common. It will guarantee that your degrees will be recognized worldwide.
5. Campus & Facilities
A decent campus should be your one-stop shop for everything you might need to support your well-being and a healthy learning environment. Look for the most complete offer including modern classrooms, library and study areas, student centers, IT and print support, but also athletic facilities, food courts, lounges, laundry services, nursery, cash machine, postal services, etc.
Reading up on accommodations for your potential schools will help, but the best way to evaluate your future living situation is to visit the place in person.
6. Social Life & Extracurricular
A final, but by no means unimportant, factor to consider is whether the campus has outlets for your non-academic interests to enrich your life.
Look for schools where you might have an opportunity to play and experience how things work outside of books as a rich social life is an important part of college. Most universities have societies and sports teams you can join in order to build your social life more easily.
7. Talk to Students and Alumni
Nobody knows as much about a school as students who are currently enrolled and alumni who have graduated. The students can tell you about campus life and academics so do not hesitate in contacting them. The alumni will tell whether a degree from this institution fulfilled their educational expectations and how it helped them in their careers. Look for Alumni testimonials online to vouch for the overall student experience in your desired university, program, and destination.