With the increase of diversity and programs for studying abroad, it seems that everyone either has or knows someone who has studied overseas. While students often sell their parents on the benefits of these programs, an important question is “Will studying abroad make my resume stand out?” College used to be the benchmark on resumes, and still is to an extent. However, it is becoming more of a checkmark rather than a resume builder. Employers now want to see how you’ve applied yourself outside of the classroom on top of completing your studies. So, is this expensive adventure headed toward the same fate?
According to a survey done by the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors, as of 2017, study abroad participation continues to increase each year for most people. However, of those enrolled at universities within the United States, 332,655 out of 19,825,947 students studied abroad during the 2016-2017 academic year. Though 332,655 students may seem like a lot, that’s really only 1.68% of students. This shows that, even though many people seem to be studying at a university across the world for a semester or two, it is still a rare opportunity for most students.
Will it make me more employable?
Results from a survey done on over 800 executives by the Center for International Business Education and Research suggests that students who study abroad are in demand in the world of business because international growth is sought after. Thus, they believe this involvement will likely provide a person with international experience, cultural competency and foreign language skills.
Many employers do see this international exposure as a positive experience. They understand that going to a new country, finding a place to live and study, and meeting a new group of people, while possibly speaking a new language or experiencing culture shock makes you more skillful and culturally aware in the end. Other employers view this as a symbol of adaptability; they know that if you need to relocate, you’ll probably be just fine. In fact, according to the QS Global Employer Survey Report of over 10,000 employers in 116 countries on five continents, six out of 10 gave bonus points to those who studied abroad and over 80% of these employers actually would search specifically for graduates who have had this worldly experience.
Going to a location relevant to your future career also seems to present more opportunities. The example given by Go Overseas was that a student who is focusing on finance would excel in places such as Hong Kong, London, or Tokyo rather than San Diego, Tanzania, or Chile.
How Will I Stand Out?
As a whole, most employers will applaud time spent away from home and this rings true through the statistics found by a NACE study: Within 12 months of graduation, only 49% of general college graduates find jobs, compared to 97% of study abroad alumni. However, this appraisal isn’t simply handed to you. You must learn how to communicate how this experience has changed you for the better, rather than talking about all of the amazing parties, road trips, and beaches you might have gone to. Once you learn how to properly market your travels, the world is yours!