Studying abroad was not on many people’s radars until Michelle Obama spoke of its importance in early 2011, saying, “When you study abroad, you’re helping to make America stronger.” Although overseas studies are sometimes thought of as extended vacations with more time spent partying than studying, the truth is that studying abroad, when done right, can be an invaluable tool for broadening your education and an asset to your resume. Here are five reasons why you should make it a priority to study abroad:
1. International Experience is Key
Our world is more globalized than ever before and the ability to work with international partners and clients is no longer a specialty, but a necessity. And it’s not just Michelle Obama who thinks so. The Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Evan Ryan, has stated, “Having a broad worldview is an essential characteristic of leadership in the twenty-first century.”
2. Resume Booster
For college students and the recently graduated who are looking for work, it is no secret how competitive the job market is. The significance of having something that sets you apart is not lost on those searching for employment, especially when so many resumes look the same. Listing your study abroad experiences on your resume—and being able to articulate the skills gained through that international education during interviews—gives you one more advantage over other equally qualified candidates.
3. Build Overseas Connections
Your network should not be limited to those at your university or workplace. Being able to build contacts during your trip can open up completely new opportunities that you may have never come across at home, and having a professor from your time abroad who can speak to your adaptability and ability to work in culturally diverse environments can prove quite valuable.
4. Diversity Training
Growing up in a culturally diverse area of America is one thing, but to spend time learning and working in a foreign country, likely with a diverse range of students studying from other countries all over the world, is another thing entirely. Being exposed to cultural and racial diversity is not just a resume builder, it actually prepares you for real workplace encounters. While this seems like an obvious one, not everyone is used to working with people who are culturally diverse, and being able to do so is a necessary skill.
5. Broader Perspective
You will probably hear it from every person who enjoyed their time abroad: overseas studies will alter how you look at your customs, educational experiences, and place in the world. Those who go into their time abroad with an open mind and willingness to admit when a different approach is better will return home with a broadened world view. Having a more expansive perspective will be infinitely helpful in tackling challenges, working with others, and taking on leadership roles.