5 Ways Studying Abroad Helps Your Career

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Study abroad – should you do it? The simple answer? YES! The longer answer? Read on…

You’ve heard it your whole life – you must prepare for high school, college, a career. And while there are many ways to prepare for each of these, one stands out at each level – gathering as much global experience as possible. 

Why global?

The world is changing. Our neighbors are diverse, our co-workers are located around the world. You will need new and different skills for your career than what your parents needed. Besides technology skills, you’ll need intercultural skills, language skills, and more – all skills that are needed in today’s global economy.

How to gain these skills?

By participating in international experiences. You can study abroad, work international internships, volunteer abroad, travel, make – and maintain – global friendships, be curious.

Study abroad and gaining international experience are critical to citizens of the world today. In order to compete in the international economy, we need to have an educated, well-traveled, resilient population. White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship 


Why Studying Abroad Helps Your Career

US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker noted at the White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship that “in this day and age, more and more employers want to hire people with a true “world view” – with the adaptability and openness that comes with having experienced other cultures.”

Here are 5 reasons Study Abroad Helps Your Career:

5 ways Study Abroad helps your career

1. By teaching you that the world has many diverse cultures, mores, ways of life…and ways of doing business 

By having this global awareness, you can, for instance, tailor your business proposals to the cultures and time zones you’re doing business with. Working with a company in Japan is very different from working with a company in Scotland, Sweden, or Swaziland. Knowing that difference exists means that you know you’ll need to research appropriate behavior, standards, and business cultures before emailing, conference calling, or embarking on a business trip. This is especially important for sales and marketing – don’t assume that your business worldview is the same as your client’s. You’ve also got to adapt to different ways of doing business, communicating, and finishing projects. 

5 Ways Studying Abroad Helps Your Career

2. By providing opportunities to gain international experiences

Nothing beats experience. You can imagine something all you want, but actually doing it shows you that your imagination can’t bring the sounds, textures, and tastes of reality. You can imagine that the Scottish Highlands are gorgeous and no wonder James Bond stopped and got out of his car in Glencoe. The reality? The moors are foggy, the ground springs under your feet, the road twists and turns, leading you to new places, and the smells of the Scottish Highlands are incomparable – so fresh! Now imagine volunteering at an elephant preserve in Thailand, or taking a walk through a market in Paris, or planning – and then doing! – a 5 day, action-packed Eurail journey. Your 5 senses – and your experiences – have brought ideas, dreams, and journeys to life. These experiences? They are valued by employers – the broader your knowledge base and the more flexible you are, the more desirable you are as an employee. Your experiences? They will help your company! 

5 Ways Studying Abroad Helps Your Career

3. By learning another language

Because of the global marketplace, language skills are important! Having studied abroad in a different country – and being fluent in different languages – is a valuable skill. Want to know how valuable? The US government offers grants for high school and college students to learn languages abroad, through their National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program. 

5 Ways Studying Abroad Helps Your Career

4. By enhancing and growing your personal skills

These include patience, listening, respect for different communication styles, adapting to change and diversity, living outside your comfort zone, trying new things, socializing with a wide range of people, understanding and practicing ethnorelativism, and gaining global knowledge. All of these skills are necessary for the global workplace – come into a job with it, and you’re already ahead of your peers who haven’t gained international experience yet.

5. By offering the opportunity to discover yourself

This may sound cheesy, but it’s true. Stepping outside your familiar circles and learning a new world brings out the best – and worst – in you. You’ll struggle with train timetables in a different language, discover new foods, make friends, and start to figure out who you really are. Why would this help your career? You’re a stronger, more capable person, able to work with people from around the world – you can’t put a price on that!

5 Ways Studying Abroad Helps Your Career


Have you studied abroad? How has it helped your career?




We've interviewed hundreds of study abroad students and shared their experiences - want to share yours with our readers? Email me! jessie at wanderingeducators.com