By: Anna Salas
Most students know that studying abroad provides an opportunity to broad their horizons through exposing them to new cultures, peoples, and places. However, not all students may be aware that studying abroad is a major opportunity to boost their resume! Below are the top four reasons why studying abroad can enhance your professional marketability.
1. You’ll increase your intercultural awareness: Studying abroad will provide you with the opportunity to delve into the customs, traditions, and cultures of a foreign country. By the end of your study abroad experience, you may likely consider yourself to be an “honorary citizen” of your host country because you will feel so immersed in its culture and way of life. Students who return from studying abroad typically have a new-found awareness and appreciation of diverse cultures and peoples. Employers will value your global worldview and your ability to interact with and form relationships with people of different backgrounds and ways of life.
2. You may have opportunities to develop foreign language proficiency: As the U.S. economy is becoming more globalized, companies are looking for employees who will be able to communicate effectively, comfortably, and naturally with clients and employees in their foreign offices. Many study abroad programs offers language courses in addition to regular classes. If you have the language skills, you may be eligible to take classes that are partially or completely taught in a foreign language. However, you will probably learn the most from experiencing life in your host city and learning how to navigate daily living situations including placing a restaurant order, chatting with locals on the subway, or asking directions on how to get to a particular place.
3. You may have opportunities to complete an internship or volunteer work: Some study abroad programs have an internship or volunteer experience component, which will have you learning, working, or assisting locals of the country you are in. Such opportunities may serve to further strengthen your resume as you will be able to speak with employers about tangible, real-life examples of how you interned or volunteered in a foreign country and the associated multi-cultural and additional transferable skills you gained as a result.
4. You’ll develop new insights and understandings through the formation of new relationships: In studying abroad, you may meet people that at first appear very different from yourself, and with whom you feel it may be hard to communicate with, much less develop a relationship. Although such people may speak a language other than your own and may have a much different background and culture than yours, you may likely form strong friendships that will allow you both to learn a lot from each other and develop a different outlook on intercultural communication and relationships. I have some friends of my own who have met friends abroad, and who now consider these friendships to be some of the closest, strongest bonds that they have in their lives. Additionally, relationships with friends, faculty, host families, teachers, and fellow students abroad serve to expand your international network so that if you ever desire to work abroad or for an internationally-based company, you will have contacts that could possibly help you in doing so.
So, how can you get started on planning your studying abroad experience? Visit the UNCC Office of Study Abroad website to access “Steps to Studying Abroad,” information on various study abroad programs through which you can get course credit at UNC Charlotte, and much more! Also, be sure to check out Going Global, a great collection of resources that provides country-specific information on topics such as employment outlook and industry trends, work permit and visa regulations, cost of living data, cultural advice, and much more! The benefits of studying abroad are truly infinite – but for even more reasons, check out the Office of Study Abroad’s webpage on “Why Study Abroad.”