How international study can benefit your professional life

Photo by Kylie Nishite

By: Kylie Nishite

You’ve just missed your connecting flight to your destination. You’re stuck, panicked and in a country you don’t know. Your first instinct is to call your family in hopes that they can solve your problems but soon you’ll have to ask yourself one thing: 

What are your parents going to do for you 5,000 miles from home? 

The simple answer: Not much.

So what do you do now? 

64% of employers consider an international experience as important for recruitment” – Erasmus Student Network

This is one of many instances I encountered while abroad. When you study in a foreign country, it challenges you in many different aspects of your life. It wasn’t until after I returned home that I took time to reflect on how my experiences helped grow my professional life.

Attitude 

When abroad, things don’t always go as planned when you travel. You have to mentally prepare yourself for the possibility of setbacks. When things went wrong for me while abroad and I felt discouraged I thought to myself, how will I make the most out of the situation? One of the biggest things travel taught me is how to view a problem from a different perspective. A professional environment requires optimism and a positive attitude. When you collaborate with others, your attitude can help determine morale, productivity and team building abilities.

Problem Solving

Everyday while abroad you are presented with problems to solve. When you study abroad and live in a new country, you go through a repetitive thought process when introduced to new problems. The simple solutions are not likely to help you in a foreign country, especially on a time limit. This is your chance to practice how to think outside the box. You have to consider the interests of you or the group, the possible solutions and then the effects of those solutions. It’s only until you reach this point that you should pick an option that presents the least risk while satisfying you or the group. It wasn’t always easy but it served as a great experience when real world problems arise in the workplace.

Inclusion

Our employers can provide us with diversity training to educate us but traveling gives you first hand experience. While traveling from country to country, I got the chance to talk to locals and engage myself in their country’s culture. I was given the opportunity to immerse myself in their culture that provided me with the knowledge on how they speak, interact or live their lives a certain way. When I returned home, I knew I had so much more cultural awareness when I worked with others. I realized that everyone comes from different backgrounds and experiences that help shape who they are. If there’s anything I learned, it’s that we should be kind to others, view people as equal and not judge others based on appearance. 

Resume Builder

You’re probably wondering, how does international study build your resume? While abroad, you’re presented with the opportunities to intern, volunteer and if you really want to, work. One of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t take advantage of the internship opportunities. Three of my friends had the opportunity to be marketing interns with the professional fùtbol club A.C. ChievoVerona. International internships expand your perspective and cultural awareness, create connections around the world and increase marketability when starting a career. 

I learned early on in college that internships are important for your future career because you need experience to get experience. It comforted me to know that “on average, Erasmus students have better employability skills after a stay abroad than 70% of all students” (University of California, Merced). Internships are a great opportunity for students to develop skills that future employers seek.

So no matter where you’ve traveled and who you met along the way, international experience is beneficial to your professional life. The best part about it is that it’s fun! So, where will you go?

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