Does studying abroad really improve your chances of employment?
We explore the advantages of studying abroad and discuss whether the experience boosts your employment prospects.
Studying abroad is something which attracts and inspires thousands of young people every year. Go International’s ‘Gone International’ study found that, of 233,185 graduates in 2013, over ten thousand had spent time studying in a country outside of the UK.
In addition to this, research carried out by Universities UK stated that, for the same academic year, one in eight students studying at a higher education institution in the UK had travelled not only from outside of the country, but outside of the EU, to do so.
With study abroad years continually rising in popularity, we look at the benefits of relocating for a portion of university life and the positive affect it can have on life after education.
Refining language skills
Speaking a foreign language on a day-to-day basis in a country where the language is native is guaranteed to develop your conversational skills and increase your linguistic confidence.
In addition to language skills themselves, having a second language on your CV acts as evidence of perseverance and a willingness to learn. A second language may give you a competitive advantage over another job applicant with similar qualifications and experience.
Being bilingual can be particularly beneficial in the world of business, as it can allow you to build a rapport with a wider range of clients.
Learning about different cultures
The majority of workplaces bring together people from different backgrounds and cultures, allowing companies to benefit from varied views and opinions in many different areas of the business.
Learning about different cultures not only prepares you for a multicultural workplace, but also broadens your mind and allows you to see things from different perspectives. This will lead to improvement in highly valued skills such as problem solving and teamwork.
Taking advantage of university/employer partnerships
Many universities and other educational institutions form professional relationships with, and sometimes partnerships with, employers. This kickstarts the ‘one foot in the door’ process for students, placing work experience and internships within easy reach.
Choosing to take a study period abroad allows you to cast the net further, and network with a wider range of people than if you’d remained at home. Work experience gives you the opportunity to prove yourself to employers, and connections can be key when the time comes to start your professional career.
Stepping outside of comfort zones
Relocating abroad alone in late teenage years or early twenties suggests dedication and determination to succeed - two qualities highly sought after by employers. It also proves a person’s ability to step outside of their comfort zone, which companies often admire.
Once you become comfortable in a new country, this enables you to remove – or at least extend – geographical limitations. On the likelihood of probabilities, it’s fair to say you’re more likely to find employment soon after graduating if you have the ability to broaden your job search beyond a single country.
What do the experts say?
Conor Booth, Centre Manager at The Language Gallery in Birmingham, has no doubt that studying abroad can have a positive impact on future career prospects. He said: “When an employer receives a CV from a student who has studied abroad, the CV immediately stands out from the others. It says to the employer that this student has worldly, cross-cultural experience and, importantly, that the student has invested in their education.”
Jeremy Bradley, Director of Academic and Student Affairs at InterActive Pro, agreed. He said: “Studying abroad is enriching not just on a personal level but on a professional one as well. [It] demonstrates to your future employers that you are an independent person, a self-starter with a keen interest in picking up new ideas, and that you have experience interacting with people from different backgrounds and life experiences.”
“The Erasmus Impact Study found that students with international experience are twice as likely to experience long-term employment compared to those that only study within their home country,” added Mr Bradley.
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