Study Abroad and Career Development
Studying abroad can help college students choose their career path, along with the opportunity to develop academic and job skills. For example, the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), found in their 50-Year Alumni Survey that 84% of alumni who worked internationally stated that studying abroad allowed them to acquire a skill set that influenced their career path (in Norris & Gillespie, 2009). In addition, the Study Abroad for Global Engagement (SAGE) project, a research initiative that looked at the long-term impact of study abroad on global engagement, found in a survey of U.S. college and university study abroad alumni from 1960 to 2005 that 35.2 % of participants stated that study abroad has helped their career to a large degree, while 39.9 % stated that study abroad has helped their career to some degree (Paige, Fry, Stallman, Josic, & Jon, 2009).
Martin Tillman, in a publication for the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), argues that study abroad participants should consider the career implications of their foreign educational experience and how their new intercultural skills and competencies can set them apart from other job seekers. Because the value of study abroad is linked to career goals, faculty and career and study abroad advisors should collaborate in helping students take full advantage of their experience abroad.
According to a College Employment Research Institute (CERI) article, the impact of study abroad on studentsí career development is strengthened when students can reflect on their experiences and convey to potential employers how the skills they learned have contributed to their career development. (unpacking their experience). Although studying abroad unquestionably aids studentsí career development, potential employers may not necessarily value study abroad participation, but rather, the skills students develop during study abroad. Therefore, study abroad participants must be able to demonstrate the relevance of their experiences abroad to the workplace. Unfortunately, some students are unable to do this.
To aid study abroad participants in connecting study abroad to the workplace, following are links to additional background information and assignments that faculty and staff can provide to enhance and help students make sense of the professional development that occurred while abroad.
- AIFS Student Guide to Study Abroad & Career Development. American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS).
- Norris, E. M., & Gillespie, J. (2009). How Study Abroad Shapes Global Careers: Evidence From the United States. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(3): 382-397.
- Paige, R. M., Fry, G. W., Stallman, E. M., Josic, J., & Jon, J-E. (2009). Study abroad for global engagement: the long-term impact of mobility experiences. Intercultural Education, S1-2: S29-44.