7 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad to Advance Your Career

How Studying Abroad Helps You Find a Well-Paid Job

A recent survey reports on how studying abroad can help students develop better skills for the 21st century.
A report by IIE claims that students who participate in study abroad programs develop more essential 21st century work-related skills.

The study examines the relationship between studying abroad, work-related skills, career development, and long-term career prospects for students.

The survey examines the specific aspects of typical study abroad programs, and what these contribute to the career success of students. The aim of the study is to inform educators and aid in developing educational programs that better prepare students to enter the global workforce in the 21st century.

The study compiled a list of 15 hard and soft skills identified as being the most sought-after by employers and examined these in relation to the study abroad experience.

The study uses the responses from approximately 4,500 university students in the USA, at different points in their academic careers, along with in-depth interviews. It provides evidence that students who study abroad learn and develop specific skills that lead to real benefits in the search for employment.

Here is a summary of the report findings:

1. Development of a variety of sought-after work-related skills

The majority of respondents claimed their study abroad experience had helped them significantly develop a wide range of skills: cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal. These included: language, curiosity, flexibility and adaptability, intercultural skills, interpersonal skills, confidence, problem solving, self-awareness, communication, tolerance for ambiguity, and specific knowledge related to their field of study.

2. Expansion of career possibilities

Students claim that studying abroad had given them a better understanding of future career possibilities, and, importantly had helped them to develop more confidence to explore such career paths. Survey and interview data supports the idea that students who had participated in study abroad had benefited from enhanced skills development and attitudinal change, as well as becoming open to considering new potential career pathways and possibilities they were previously unaware of or had not considered. Students also reported feeling greater ambition and being less hesitant in relation to their professional careers, and being more open to explore less conventional career routes.

3. Career progression and promotion

The majority of students reported long-term benefits in relation to their career development, claiming that their experience studying abroad had positively influenced their search for permanent employment.

4. Extended study abroad has a greater impact on skills development and future employment opportunities

Studying abroad for a short period of time develops primarily teamwork skills. But longer-term study abroad experiences result in greater development of communication skills and foreign language skills.

5. Non-major related skills development

Students of STEM subjects in particular reported development of valuable skills outside their academic field as a result of their study abroad experience. 47n per cent of science majors who participated in a non-science study abroad program claimed that their study abroad experience had helped them land a job. 28 per cent of science majors who participated in a science-related study abroad program claimed that the experience had contributed to them finding their current employment.

6. Destination diversity

Students who chose to study abroad in destination less popular or similar to their own culture reported greater skills development and impact on their career.

7. Optimal skills development

Those students with clear intentions and very structured academic programs found that these aspects significantly contributed to skills development. Their vision regarding their career prospects prior to participating in their study abroad programs resulted in an overall positive influence on their ability to define the development of certain skills and the subsequent impact such skills had in terms of their career.

In the globalized world of today, where economies are interconnected, many students seek and develop professional careers in environments where they will work or conduct business with international companies, and different cultures. The report concludes that skills obtained while studying abroad can be extremely useful for students in terms of long-term career development and success.