Studying Abroad Can be a Fantastic Educational Investment

studying abroad | investment | educational investment | employment

Today I am thrilled to have Lauren Davidson guest post about the benefits of studying abroad. As someone who has studied abroad, I can attest that it is a wonderful thing to do. It is also the one thing that I would always get asked about on my resume.

What Employers See When They Find a Study Abroad Trip on Your Transcript or Resume

If you’re considering studying abroad in college, you may be wondering how the experience will benefit you long term.  While the immediate benefits are obvious — you’ll be able to travel, see new places, perhaps pick up or improve a foreign language — it may not be as clear how it will impact your job prospects or value as an employee.

On top of all of that, you have to pay for it. Do the benefits outweigh the expense? Will you have to take out a student loan? If so you may want to think hard about your options and consider the future implications. Will you get a solid job with your foreign experience? Or will you be saddled with that debt and just the memory of a study abroad trip?

How Studying Abroad Works

Studying abroad for a semester or a year involves attending a university in another country.  Typically, it is at a college or university that has a partnership with your current school.  You will receive credits for your course of study while attending a study abroad program. You’ll also gain a whole world of experience far beyond what you might otherwise obtain staying in the United States.

How Studying Abroad Sets You Apart in the Job Hunt

When I applied for jobs after graduation, I was uncertain as to how potential employers would view my time spent studying abroad.  Would they think that I was simply having a good time in a foreign country? Or would they understand that it was an immersive experience? One where I gained skills both inside and outside of the classroom?  Fortunately, I found that the latter to be true with most prospective employers.

Lots of employers and hiring directors view study abroad as a unique experience that gives potential employees a skill set that cannot be taught in an ordinary college classroom.  These skills and experiences are particularly valuable in today’s diverse and global economy. As the average employee will be expected to interact with people far different from they are and to understand cultures, systems, and economies outside of their own.  

Understanding Others Better

Time spent studying abroad gives you international experience. Along with it, it gives you the ability to accept and learn to interact with a whole host of people.  No matter where you studied abroad, the cultural norms of the country will undoubtedly be different from those of the United States. Your ability to accept those norms and get along with people regardless of where you were living is a valuable skill set. Is is one that will be attractive to many employers.

Better Problem Solving Skills

In my experience, many employers also believe that studying abroad gives you strong problem-solving skills and independence, which is particularly important given the negative impression that many older people have of the millennial generation.  After all, if you are in a foreign country and something goes wrong, it is up to you to figure out how to solve it. This can mean overcoming language barriers, lack of familiarity with culture and customs, and all without help to do so. 

For example, what if your housing falls through at the last minute while studying abroad in a foreign country? You will have to be incredibly resourceful to figure out how to secure a new apartment.  If you can do that, then handling a project that has a glitch at your new job should not be a major obstacle for you.

Studying abroad also requires you to be adaptable and flexible. Since living conditions and cultural expectations can vary significantly from country to country.

Employers appreciate employees who can adapt to changing circumstances and rise to meet challenges. Which is why a candidate with studying abroad experience on his or her transcript or resume is more attractive than other candidates.  

Expanded Communication Skills

Studying abroad also requires you to have great communication skills. This often involves learning a foreign language or may just mean learning to make new friends despite language barriers.  This is a tremendous asset to any business. And it can make you a far better candidate for a job than other prospects, as companies are increasingly competing in a global marketplace.

When an employer sees that you have studied abroad, he or she will know that you have some ability to communicate with people who are different from you are. They also know that you potentially have some foreign language skills. Either of these skills may put you ahead of other people competing for the same job.

Wrapping it Up with a Bow on Top

While studying abroad may not have been the only reason that I landed my current job, it certainly helped to show that I have strong skills as a potential employee and would be a valuable asset to the company. So if you are considering studying abroad, remember that the experience may end up giving you an advantage on the job market after graduation and is thus can be a fantastic educational investment.

About the Author

Lauren Davidson is a recent graduate exploring new ways to make money to help her pay down her student loan debt. She hopes to soon start a blog to help track her journey and help borrowers in similar situations. Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your experience and insights on studying abroad. I know it was one of the best things I did when I was in Law School. If you are interested in guest posting on Less Debt More Wine, please read my guest posting policy.

2 thoughts on “Studying Abroad Can be a Fantastic Educational Investment”

  1. It is a pretty expensive option to add to the cost of college. The arguments you present sound a lot like the arguments people make for expensive private colleges versus cheaper state universities. Sure it is nice but there isn’t much statistical evidence to support there being a payout for most students to study abroad. Just like there is scant evidence that expensive schools are worth the extra cost versus state universities. I guess as an engineer I remain skeptical until someone can show me the money.

    1. It could also depend on your degree and what you want to do. Studying abroad may not be as useful for an engineer as an international studies major or communications major, I had a lot of interest in international law myself so studying abroad was useful.

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