Most exchange students put all thoughts of future employment on the back burner the moment they step foot on foreign soil.
After all, studying abroad is all about experiencing new cultures, developing your education and making memories. Beefing up the resume just doesn’t make the cut. Turns out, it doesn’t need to. There are multiple job skills exchange students learn while overseas, without even lifting a finger. Read on to see what these are.
At the start of your time overseas, you were a little hesitant to stand on your own two feet. But like a Ne-Yo song come to life, traveling abroad has left you little Miss Independent. You have no trouble traveling, living or working on your own and you’re even darn proud of the fact you’ve mastered how to do your own washing (thanks Google). In the workplace, this ability to work independent of others is essential, as you might not always have a co-worker to motivate or instruct you.
You’ve overcome lost luggage. You’ve navigated the subway systems of New York City. Heck, you even managed to translate that near unreadable menu that one time. And with each wayward scenario, you’ve been driven to look at problems in more innovative and critical ways, to find a suitable solution. Because of this, you’ve enhanced your problem-solving skills – skills that, FYI, all employers swoon over.
Planning and Organization Skills
Good news: each time you plan a weekend trip to London or organize a study date with friends, you’re improving your planning and organization skills. That’s because you’re designing, planning and organizing tasks, and then fulfilling them within an allotted timeframe. And who doesn’t love a jobseeker who sticks to their metaphorical schedule guns? Certainly, not employers.
You’ve adapted. You’ve pulled a page from Darwin’s book and adapted to new cultures, challenges, environments and lifestyles. And, just like the naturalist premise dictates, that leaves you the grad student that survives. Well, the job interviews, at least. Nowadays, employers need adaptable individuals; people who are open to new ideas and flexible when facing unexpected challenges. Studying abroad helps to give you that edge over others.
All those hours spent honing that second language at that overseas university have now paid off. You can now squeal in delight as you change your Japanese language aptitude on LinkedIn from ‘Limited Working Proficiency’ to ‘Professional Working Proficiency’. The added bonus? Being able to communicate with other people, such as prospective clients overseas, is in ha-UGE demand in the workforce. Like, pick a number and double it huge. Language skills also have a positive impact on the chance of sourcing an international job. So, you might see your host country again sooner than you think.
Who knew making friends overseas could help with your future job prospects? And we’re not just talking about your buddy-bud-buds, who you swear are the oars to your canoe. We’re also talking about your quiet gamer roommate, your frizzy-haired lecturer and your always-have-a-coffee-in-hand classmate. By befriending each of these individuals, you’ve expanded your social network and improved your networking skills. This is an essential professional skill as it promotes new forms of communications and helps to spread knowledge.
Putting it into layman’s terms, intercultural competence is the ability to get along, work and learn with people from cultures outside your own. So, going overseas to further your engineering degree at a university with a different culture? Intercultural competence. Huddling with your Italian and Norwegian roomies-turned-buddies during a horror movie marathon? More intercultural competence. And in a world where diversity in the workplace is on the rise, this trait is highly cultivated. Enough said.
Author: Chloe Ranford. Chloe is Rakbo‘s Editor-in-Chief. She is an Australian journalist who recently completed the last semester of her Bachelor of Journalism degree as an International Exchange Student at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), England. She can be found watching British sitcoms and drinking tea by the bucket load.
Another version of this article was published on Rakbo on February 6, 2017.