“Travel is the best education” is a commonly rehearsed saying that effaces the value differences between diverse types of global experiences. Regardless of the nature of global learning, our interactions with locals, and the thoughtfulness with which we plan ahead, we are led to expect results. The underlying assumption would suggest that travelling internationally accrues benefits without requiring us to practice the critical thinking with which we approach other educational experiences. We substitute travel itself for purposeful reflection.
In truth, a number of factors can lower your cultural intelligence, including stepping into a cross-cultural situation without planning ahead.
We would like to argue that global experiences do not provide educational benefits without thoughtful reflection that connects them to career competencies.
Related: The right sort of travel can boost your career Also read: How Corban University students are jumpstarting their college careers
Understand the career potential of study abroad
Of 1000 alumni surveyed by IES Abroad, 84% concurred “that studying abroad helped them build job skills.” Additionally, three quarters of IES alumni in a 50-year IES survey agreed that their study abroad program developed skills that later shaped the direction of their careers.
Results from Europe confirm these findings. In the 2016 Erasmus Impact Study of 71,000 European students who studied abroad, 94% reported an improved ability to adapt to and act in new situations as well as improved communication skills.
Clarify the outcomes you expect
AIFS Study Abroad suggests that 50% or more of learning may occur outside the classroom during study abroad. If you have studied abroad, think about how you changed over the course of the experience. If you are just considering a global learning experience, ask alumni about how study abroad relates to their current occupation.
If you are unsure about what to expect from study abroad, read this list of outcomes and highlight the top 10 that apply most closely to you.
Articulate the results
Articulate the results of your study abroad experience in ways that potential employers will value. Remember that list of outcomes? Of the ten you highlighted, circle the three most significant. Then, translate them onto your resumé.
Chances are there is a story behind each bullet point you have chosen. Did you develop a sense of confidence through traveling to new countries? That means you’ve developed the skill of adapting to diverse environments. Did you have a travel emergency and sleep in a train station overnight? Cite that as evidence of your resilience and calm in uncertain circumstances. Did you interview a local in a coffee shop as a source for a history paper? You’ve applied a creative solution to an ambiguous problem.
Know your audience
“Study abroad” conjures a different mental image for many people. The person interviewing you may think you have spent a semester on the beach in Spain or skiing in Switzerland rather than studying. Frame the experience in vocabulary that appeals to prospective employers. Prove your experiences bring value to the company. Be ready to respond to the question, “tell me about yourself” in a way that sets you apart.
With the outcomes you’ve just identified, prepare a 60-second elevator pitch that you can bring into an interview.
Upcoming: Marketing Your International Experience, 28 September 2017, Corban University