Study abroad students have leg up in job market
If you’re even thinking about studying abroad, leaders from a range of industries who spoke at the inaugural IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad have a message for you: Do it — your job search will thank you.
UE - If you’re even thinking about studying abroad, leaders from a range of industries who spoke at the inaugural IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad have a message for you: Do it — your job search will thank you.
About 30 panels featuring executives, university administrators and higher-education journalists examined the benefits of studying abroad from myriad angles, including strategies to increase study abroad participation and the career benefits of studying in another country.
USA TODAY College attended the summit’s Friday morning panel called “How Does Study Abroad Build a Globally Minded Workforce?” hosted by Jon Marcus, an editor at the Hechinger Report and a journalism instructor at Boston College.
The panelists: Peter Hancock, president and CEO of insurance giant AIG; Ashley Blackmon “brand enthusiast and marketing professional”; Peter Lengyel, president and CEO of Safran USA, an aviation, defense and security company; and Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College.
What they had to say was kind of awesome. Here, the highlights:
It’s an advantageous career move: AIG’s Hancock says that students who study abroad can use their experiences to their advantage when seeking employment post-graduation.
“Having the trust to reveal more about yourself to other people in a foreign culture is a big leap of faith,” Hancock said. “When you realize you can do that and feel safe and more connected, it gives people confidence to do it in a work setting.”
He added that hiring managers look for students who can work well in teams — a skill he says can be learned abroad.
“AIG President and CEO Peter Hancock discusses the influence that study abroad has on employment. Photo courtesy of the Institute of International Education.”
Interacting “with the other students, and maybe a family if you’re staying with a family, really starts to exercise the muscle of empathy, which I think is the critical ingredient of both teamwork and mutual trust,” he said.
Being multi-lingual = good: Lengyel, whose company is headquartered in France but has bases worldwide, said Safran’s human resources department looks to hire people who can speak multiple languages and adapt to different environments.
“We specifically need bicultural people, at a minimum,” he said. “We have individuals that look for like-minded, like-studied, like-educated individuals.”
And a tip — don’t waste the opportunity: Eduardo Padrón, the president of Miami Dade College, said students should avoid gravitating to familiar things when abroad, and that faculty can help prepare them by explaining what’s important to learn before stepping onto the plane.
“Sometimes students go and all they do is eat at McDonald’s and read books and sing songs without really interacting and getting the whole understanding of the culture they are working with,” he said.
Nearly 300,000 students studied abroad in the 2012-2013 academic year according to the most recent data from IIE. That represents only a 2% rise from the previous school year. Only about 1% of all U.S. students enrolled at institutions of higher education study abroad.
After the panel, Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, told USA TODAY College that “faculty are the ones that also can encourage you to say, ‘It’s worth the risk.'”
He adds, “If we can begin to combine the courses with the service learning and the internships, we’re building a very different paradigm for the 21st century than traditional study abroad.”