Studying abroad is not only a fantastic driver of personal development, it’s also a way to make new friends from all over the world and a means of traveling while completing your studies. It’s a highly marketable experience that you should parade before all potential future employers.
Here are 10 reasons why employers love international graduates:
1. Broad, global experience
When you study abroad, you’re taking in twice the knowledge. The textbook may teach you more or less the same curriculum as it would at home. But the people you’re surrounded by, the culture shock, the everyday occurrences that strike you as odd or different – those are all forms of ‘teachers’ you wouldn’t be exposed to at home, safe inside your comfort zone. Learning about the world hands-on, as you do abroad, is just as marketable to potential employers as what you learned from Powerpoint slides or assigned readings.
Just the fact that you got on a plane and saw another part of the world puts you leagues above your competition. A desire to travel and experience other corners of the globe shows you’re thirsty for knowledge and new experiences. Employers like to see such enthusiasm in the people they bring to the team.
3. Cultural awareness
‘Culture’ is a very loosely defined term and may apply to many aspects of the job you’re seeking. Employees may come from different cultural backgrounds; potential clients may be based abroad, and have different cultural customs; and your job may have its own particular work culture. The ability to absorb and adapt to new cultures is highly desirable, as is cultural sensitivity, often demanded of people when they study abroad.
4. Problem solving skills
Living abroad throws all sorts of new and unforeseen problems your way, and chances are, if you completed your time overseas, you learnt to resolve most of them. From seemingly petty problems like smoothing over cross-cultural issues with roommates, to more substantial ones like dealing with a foreign government’s bureaucracy, being abroad isn’t always a walk in the park. Problem solving is a skill employers look for in a strong applicant, so navigating these issues abroad gives you a great bank of experience to draw from and talk up during your interview.
During your time abroad, it’s likely you had to fend for yourself a bit more than you were accustomed to back home. Being much further away from friends and family naturally begs you to become more self-sufficient. You’ll need to learn things as you go; pick up and carry on during hard times; even learn to boil pasta far away from your mother’s helping hands. Your employer will appreciate this autonomy, as it shows you’ll be capable of managing and completing tasks that come your way.
6. Advanced social skills
Unfortunately, airlines these days set a pretty firm size and weight limit on luggage, and all your friends and family won’t fit inside. Going abroad means having to form a new social circle. When you start a new job, you’ll need to be aware of appropriate social behaviour, mingle with new colleagues, impress your boss, and generally mesh well with the team. But you’ll be able draw on all the social skills you picked up overseas!
You’ve already adapted to a whole new culture, schedule, university requirements, possibly even a new language. Adapting to a new workplace shouldn’t be too hard for you, and employers will be grateful for this.
8. Fresh perspective
Studying abroad opens your mind in ways you could not have imagined before. Even in seemingly similar cultures, there are differences that may never have occurred to you had you stayed in your sheltered bubble throughout university. Gaining a new perspective abroad will help you be more creative, see opposing sides and consider decisions from different angles in the workplace.
9. Appreciation of diversity
Your decision to study abroad demonstrates that you understand the importance of diversity – both cultural diversity, and on a more personal level, that of diversifying your academic experience and views. Hopefully you’ll also be able to appreciate diversity in the workplace, and even come to expect it for a company to thrive.
10. Ability to take risks and use initiative
Just the fact that you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone in the first place shows your capabilities. And making the move abroad takes initiative – the opportunity didn’t just fall into your lap; you actively sought it out. Employers recognise that in a prosperous company, employees should be willing to show initiative and, to a certain extent, take risks.
It’s no surprise that employers are eager to hire individuals with international experience. Market your newfound skills well, and it shouldn’t be difficult for your worldly, well-rounded self to land the job!