• There are some great benefits that come with studying abroad but students need to learn how to harness these exceptional outcomes from their experiences abroad to perfectly fit into their career paths.

    A study seeking to investigate the effect of mobility on skills and institutional development, employability, and the internationalization of higher education institutions in Europe has reported that students who study abroad are better placed in terms of finding a job after graduation than those who don’t.

    In addition to gaining employability skills, the research, Erasmus Impact Study (EIS) also indicates that more than 90% of international students reported an improvement in their soft skills including their ability to interact and work with individuals from different cultures, communications skills, adaptability and foreign language proficiency.

    Here are some of the reasons why taking that overseas training, or internship could boost your chances of becoming a better employee in the future.

    International Experience

    The EIS notes that “effects of mobility on the skills and employability of students and the internationalization of higher education institutions finds that internationally mobile students are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared with those who have not studied or trained abroad and that, five years after graduation, their unemployment rate is 23% lower.”

    Speaking to the Telegraph, Claire Powers, a recruiter from global knowledge broker AlphaSights, noted that she cannot “emphasize enough the importance of an international experience” and that “the confidence and self-awareness students gain from putting down roots somewhere new, is an asset for any business”.

    Being able to meet and relate or work with people from different cultural backgrounds opens up an individual’s mind and lays to rest some of the misconceptions about other people's culture. This improves one's ability to work in a diverse environment in future and to be more culture-conscious.

    These qualities are highly valued in organizations and, in particular, those that deal with clients or staff from different cultural backgrounds and most organizations nowadays are pluralistic.

    According to the study, student mobility also promotes job mobility in the future. “Of the mobile students, 93% (compared with 73% of the non-mobile students) could envisage living abroad and 95% of mobile students (compared to 78% of non-mobile students) wished to work in an international context. 40% of mobile alumni had changed countries at least once since graduation, 18% more than among non-mobile alumni. Former Erasmus students are also more than twice as likely to change their employer as non-mobile alumni.”

    Greater Professional Responsibilities

    In the study, the results indicated that mobile students held positions with leadership components. This could be attributed to the fact these students have acquired more diverse people skills and are thus more preferred to lead other people in an organization.

    Of the employers surveyed in the study, 64% said that graduates with an international background are given greater professional responsibility more frequently, a proportion that has increased by 51% since 2006. Of the Erasmus alumni surveyed, 77% held positions with leadership components 10 years after graduation, compared to non-mobile alumni 10 years after graduation.

    In her efforts to promote more international travel among Americans, The First Lady Michelle Obama during a visit to China to speak about the importance of education, youth empowerment and the benefits of studying abroad said: “The benefits of studying abroad are almost endless." She was speaking to CNN iReporter.

    "First of all, it is going to make you more marketable in the United States. More and more companies are realizing that they need people with experience around the world."

    It is not just in the U.S. where companies require exposed employees but the rest of the world too.

    Transversal Skills

    Leaving one’s comfort zone and exploring a new area possibly in a different continent or country helps one to develop adaptability skills. Developing this level of flexibility and being able to react and act independently in a ‘foreign’ place are invaluable skills to employers.

    Employers need to know that when it calls for independent sound judgment at work, an employee will be able to make the call and follow it to fruition. Making self-decisions helps an individual to develop self-confidence

    According to the conclusions drawn from the study, students ―"do not only mature during their stay but they also gain in competencies often summarized as soft or key skills like intercultural awareness, adaptability, flexibility, innovativeness, productivity, motivation, endurance, problem-solving abilities and being able to work productively in a team.” All these skills and competencies are closely related to employability.

    Studying abroad comes with at least three benefits: social and intercultural competencies as well as other employability related soft skills which are important in a work environment. If you have hitched the opportunity to study abroad or are a prospective student who wants to further education, consider applying to a university outside your country and learn from the new environment through internship programs or some form of work. This will enable you to acquire some skills that you could use to progress your career abroad or at home.

    Image Credit: HBCU-Hampton-University