Studying abroad is not only a fantastic way to broaden your horizons and discover something new, it’s also an experience you can parade to future employers. Double degrees, specialising and work experience is great, but international experience, or “globalisation” is today’s buzzword that has employers taking notice.
More students than ever are going to university to further their studies. This makes for a dynamic learning experience, but in a demand-driven system, students will need to find ways to stand out to secure their dream roles following graduation. With more competition comes a greater need to excel.
For the chief executive of the Australian Association of Graduate Employers, Ben Reeves, students who study overseas show initiative and the ability to adapt to unusual situations. “When you’re screening candidates you get so much from marks and grades, but international student exchange is more about the development of other skills,” he says.
These skills go a long way in an ever more globalised world, helping to build a generation of leaders and innovators who have a deep understanding of other cultures through international experience.
With this in mind, international study shouldn’t never be seen as a luxury, more so a necessity.
The benefits of international study
QS World University Rankings’ Global Employer Survey Report collected the views of more than 10,000 employers across 116 countries, asking questions on employment and international experience. 6 out of 10 respondents said they would give extra credit to an applicant with international student experience, with 80% saying they would actively seek graduates that had studied abroad.
Another study, done by NACE, found that 97% of graduates with international experience found a job within 12 months of graduating, compared with only 49% of the general graduate population. That’s a significant difference and a comforting thought for any international student about to graduate!
Salaries of study abroad students also tend to be higher, with the average international student being given $7,000 a year more than a person who studied within their own country. Employers view time abroad as a platform to develop valuable skills like tolerance, diversity, ambiguity, communication and adaptability – and they are willing to pay for it.
Jeff Watson, the Employer Relationship Developer at the University of Western Ontario, says it makes sense for big brands to pay more for international experience as these companies “are global entities themselves”.
How long you’re gone for makes a difference too, with research showing that the longer a student spent abroad and the more relevant the experience was to their career, the more they were favoured by management and HR departments.
Where you study can matter too, with certain industries favouring certain study abroad locations. For students of finance, for example, industry leaders favour study sites like London, Hong Kong or Frankfurt. For students of nursing or leadership and management, study sites like Melbourne, Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur are looked upon favourably.
Companies that operate over international boundaries obviously favour an ability to connect with different cultures. The more experience abroad you have, the more you can help a company expand its global reach.
Why do employers love international experience?
When determining where you’re going to study, think about your resume and how it will come across to potential employers. What will you have done to stand out?
If you’re planning to study abroad, here are some of the things you’ll be able to include on your resume later on…
1. Broad, global experience
When you study abroad, you more or less study the same curriculum as your “stay-at-home” peers. But the people you surround yourself with are different, meaning everyday occurrences are different. Each day brings something new and fresh, therefore you’re effectively learning double the amount of what you’d learn at home. Your study becomes more than just textbook learning, it becomes a window to another world.
2. Cultural awareness
The ability to absorb and adapt to new cultures is highly desirable, and by studying abroad you will gain a cultural sensitivity that’s difficult to garner without having immersed yourself abroad. Employers, employees, clients and consumers come from all walks of life, and your industry may have its own particular work culture. By studying abroad, you show you can appreciate that differences and similarities exist without assigning them a value.
It takes guts to step out of your comfort zone and move to another part of the world, and employers will appreciate the courage you will have mustered to go. This is especially true if language is a barrier, as it highlights that you can overlook obstacles to see potential gain.
Employers want people who are driven and have a thirst for life. This shows them that you’re eager for knowledge and new experiences, and tells them that you’ll take an active approach to gain what you want. Studying abroad is an opportunity for advancement, and when you grab at it with both hands, you show your willingness to overcome challenges.
5. Problem solving skills
Living abroad throws all sorts of new and unforeseen challenges your way – new roommates, new host family, a different language, foreign government bureaucracy, employment restrictions etc. If you complete at least several months abroad, then chances are you will have overcome some of these challenges. Employers know that with each new challenge conquered, your confidence in problem solving grows, and a confident employee is a valuable asset.
Studying under the support of your parents and your life-long friends might seem like the easy option and a good way to concentrate solely on study, but studying this way doesn’t exactly scream self-sufficiency. The further away you go from your support network the more independent you must become; be it consoling yourself through a breakup, hard financial times or learning to run a household yourself. The autonomy you get from time away speaks volumes about your capability to manage yourself.
Studying abroad opens your mind in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine. Even in seemingly similar cultures there are vast differences that help shape you as a person. Stay in a sheltered bubble under the protection of your childhood friends and parents and you might not ever discover the real you. Perspective is a wonderful thing that will allow you to be more creative and open in the workplace.
8. Advanced social skills
Many industries require you to mingle and build strong relationships with a bunch of different clients and vendors. Knowing you’ve had to make friends from scratch as part of a study abroad program tells an employer that you’re capable of doing this. Social behaviour is an important element of employment, and drawing on social skills you learnt from your time away will help you conquer even the toughest networking event.
The fact you’ve chosen to gain experience abroad to better yourself for your industry’s community shows you not only have an appreciation for diversity, but an appreciation for what every individual brings to the table. To see value in alternate experience shows you’ll be a good team player, as you’ll likely recognise the importance of different opinions and customs.
The opportunity to study at somewhere like Lonsdale Institute doesn’t just fall in your lap, you actively go out to seek it. You look into financial implications, you research visas and restrictions, and you search for employment and housing opportunities. You don’t just go and hope for the best, you take the time to prepare and then you go with a steady head. Yes there’s risk involved, but you show initiative by seeing past this.
See where international study can take your career
When you think about the big picture, it’s easy to see why studying abroad is such an attractive trait for employees to have. By making the decision to study abroad, you ultimately have a positive impact on your future employability.
Thinking about broadening your horizons and studying overseas? Lonsdale Institute have been a leading provider of education and training for Australian and international students since 2007. With a range of quality courses available at both Sydney and Melbourne campuses, and an unparalleled student culture, Lonsdale Institute are the first choice for thousands of students from all over the world.