How Studying Abroad Will Positively Impact Your Future Career:
The novel freedom and independence you gain in your 20s forces you to make some of the most monumentally sculpting decisions of your young life. These include deciding to leave your hometown, choosing a major or a career, and deciding whether or not to settle down early. With so much possibility and opportunity in front of you, you may feel a lot of pressure on your shoulders. The pressure to navigate the rocky beginning of adulthood, embark on a career, while also making the most of your youth. Everything is at your fingertips. Everything is for your choosing. This can be intimidating for those who don't want to settle and are still exploring what they want.
Considering these pressures, many individuals in their 20s turn to travel as a catalyst for the internal self discovery needed to kickstart their adult lives. Traveling will put you in uncomfortable situations that are metamorphic to your growth, allowing you to develop a greater understanding of the world and of yourself. At a time in life where you are young, hungry for experience, trying to discover yourself, and are free of the anchoring commitments that come along later in life, you are the perfect candidate for the internal transformation potential travel holds.
Still, the thought of leaving everything behind and spending your minimal (or nonexistent) savings to travel and “find yourself,” may seem like a movie cliche. Unrealistic and illogical to say the least.
The 20s are more traditionally viewed as an unrivaled time to advance yourself academically. It is the time to get your foot into the career world and make a name for yourself. This grace period of “youth and independence” should be taken advantage of to study and receive the education needed to land a respectable and rewarding job.
You may see your life as one or the other. If you take the leap to travel the world then school will probably need to be put on hold, and vice versa.
But why not both? Why not reap the benefits of travel as well as further your education at the same time?
A study abroad experience allows you to do just that.
The personal growth that you experience by pursuing your education through travel is undeniable. Traveling forces you outside of your comfort zone and fully immerses you in new and foreign cultures. By doing so, you will be forced to make your own decisions, navigate new terrain, and solve problems on your own. This can help you develop invaluable life skills such as a greater sense of self-reliance, confidence, adaptability, independence, empathy, and gratitude to name a few.
Those who study abroad in their 20s reap the benefits not just in their personal growth, but also in their future career and professional life.
The University of California, Merced, compiled an overview of statistics underscoring the career advantages of studying abroad. The overarching message was that “having a period of study abroad on your resume signals certain attributes to employers that may make you a better hire.” Some of these attributes include but aren't limited to: self-confidence, communication, independence, maturity, adaptability, self-reliance, resilience, and global mindedness.
The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad), has also linked studying abroad to career advantages, in this case an "increase in hireability." 97% of IES students found employment within twelve months of graduation, compared to 49% of domestic college grads. But that's not all. Of those who landed a job in the first year, 90% did so within the first six months.
So how exactly can a study abroad experience boost your career?
1. Network Optimization:
Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to develop a network of contacts beyond the borders of your university or hometown. As you travel you will inevitably cross paths with others along the way. Whether it be fellow travelers or locals, you will find that your separation from home makes for especially deep and meaningful social interactions. With these new relationships you are expanding your circle so that more people know about you, your goals, and your aspirations. This exact networking may lead to career opportunities that prove to be fruitful down the line.
2. Career Choice and Job Satisfaction:
Studying abroad broadens your horizons and exposes you to new cultures and ways of thinking. As you obtain a more global perspective, you will in turn develop a better understanding of your own personal and professional values.
With a firm grip on your values, you are more capable of choosing a career that is likely to yield job satisfaction. In an impressive longitudinal study spanning 50 years conducted by IES Abroad, 87 percent of respondents said that study abroad influenced subsequent educational experiences, 63 percent said that it influenced their decision to expand or change academic majors, and 64 percent reported that it influenced their decision to attend graduate school.
From learning about a career path that was unheard of to you or discovering a country you want to permanently move to, the amount you learn through travel will shape your future decisions immensely.
3. Knowing & Learning New Languages:
Whether it be learning a whole new language or becoming more adept at your own, studying abroad proves to enhance both. The Oxford University Press reports that learning a new language by immersing yourself in another culture is a great way to improve your familiarity with your first language. Researchers suggest that by focusing on the grammatical and structural details of another language, learners pick up on new rules and structure of their first language.
The importance of linguistic diversity in an increasingly globalized world is vital to achieve meaningful communication and strengthen the unity between countries and societies. The career world is increasingly looking for hires with global experience and language diversity. Simply put, knowing more than one language will no doubt set you apart from most of your competition.
Depending how long you study abroad and whether or not you are in an English speaking country, studying abroad can be a great tool to learn a new language. You will regularly have real-world interactions with native language speakers which is the direct immersion that greatly accelerates your progress. As you navigate through this foreign country you will hear native pronunciations and see how others use their grammar skills in everyday situations. All are aspects of language learning that cannot be replicated online or in the classroom.
A study abroad experience in your 20s can be defined as a time where you navigate unknown terrain and become increasingly independent as you make your own problem solving decisions. This can help you develop a greater sense of self-reliance and confidence which are invaluable skills in any area of your life.
A report carried out by the Leuphana University Luneburg in Germany found that students who underwent an exchange year during their undergraduate degree were found to be ‘more independent, resilient and confident’. These attributes were found to have a positive correlation with the ability to ‘deal with stress at work, increase the individual’s motivation in reaching goals as well as increase their overall job satisfaction’.
To further communicate this point, the ‘Times Higher Education’ found the more mobile a student is, the higher their levels of 'self-efficacy' and ‘self-belief’ are. This directly relates to students being more likely to apply for promotions, hit targets, travel internationally and so on.
5. Looks Good on Your Future Resume:
Employers are very familiar with all of the positive reverberations study abroad has on students. With increased networking and language skills, job satisfaction, and confidence employers will instantly see someone with “study abroad” on their resume more fit for the workplace
UC Merced found that those who had studied abroad were twice as likely to find a job. 97% of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period.
6. Make more Money:
With studying abroad on your resume, not only are more jobs offered to you, but more higher paying jobs. If employers are drawn to the skills that come with studying abroad, it makes sense that employees with those skills should have an edge in their careers, including their income.
IES Abroad provides evidence that studying abroad pays off, literally. It was found that study-abroad alumni average a 25% higher salary and make about $7,000 more per year than college grads who didn't study abroad. This translates to a $567,500 increase in total earnings over the course of a typical career in the United States. This is clear evidence that study abroad pays.
Simultaneously pursuing both travel and education in your 20s is increasingly becoming the reality for many. Doing so shows significant boosts not only in personal growth and quality memories made, but also in your professional life. To an employer, seeing study abroad experience on your resume indicates that you are independent, open to new experiences, and capable of adapting to your surroundings. These are all traits that employers swoon over and will set you apart from your competition.
If you are considering studying abroad, the data is on your side. Taking the nontraditional route to travel while pursuing your studies will prepare you to take on the uncertainties of your personal and professional life for decades to come.