International Masters programmes can open the door to a successful career and help you grow both professionally and personally. However, they require ambition, responsibility and discipline.
Economic globalisation is running parallel with the internationalisation of the workforce. Employees now need to be more open and able to interact with colleagues and clients from different backgrounds. They need to speak more languages and be aware of cross-cultural subtleties, skills that were not required for previous generations.
Those who want to be able to navigate today’s work environment can take advantage of international Masters programmes. These not only include courses delivered abroad. Most of the examples provided in this article refer to study abroad, but you can also study for a Masters programme with an international curriculum in your home country.
Stand out with an international Masters degree
Graduates from international Masters programmes are equipped with an array of attributes to succeed in the contemporary working world. So what is it that they are gaining exactly?
Employers around the world are increasingly looking to hire people with international experience who have the ability to communicate with colleagues, stakeholders, and customers from diverse backgrounds. An international Masters will help you feel at ease in a multicultural environment and employers know that.
As business is going increasingly international, it’s not only the big companies that are looking for internationally-minded employees. According to a 2016 survey by foreign exchange company USForex, 58% of US small businesses already have international customers.
“Going global is no longer an option for successful small- and medium-sized businesses — it’s a strategic imperative,” said Karin Visnick, head of USForex North America.
This trend suggests that the value of your international Masters degree increases without your having to do anything.
In going to study in a foreign country, you will immerse yourself in a new culture, new traditions and generally in a different way of doing things. Even the facial expressions, body language, and gestures will be strange to you. All this unfamiliarity and novelty will help you develop the cross-cultural communication skills many international employers hold in high esteem.
And these are just the benefits associated with interacting with people from the country in which you are studying. Bear in mind that you will also get to know people from other countries, who, like you, have taken on the challenge of studying abroad. This will add another layer to your awareness of the world. Yet another benefit of pursuing an international Masters degree is that the experience typically destroys stereotypes and prejudices.
You will also understand your own country better and learn to appreciate it in a way you have never imagined. You will see it from another angle and the discoveries you make will surely surprise you.
International experience on your CV/resume
Employers will notice the international experience reflected in your CV and will appreciate it. It will be a signal to them that you possess those additional attributes such as cross-cultural communication skills, independence, language skills, and responsibility, to name but a few.
Having a culturally diverse CV is definitely an advantage in today's competitive job market. Describing your international experience will help you stand out from your competitors not only because many job candidates lack it, but also because it shows that you are ready to go the extra mile and that you are adventurous and not afraid to make major decisions in life.
It’s one thing to study a foreign language in school; it’s another thing to actually live in the country where the language is spoken. Even if you know the language well, you are bound to experience some difficulties when talking to native speakers, but with time you will grow more confident in your use of the language. Some universities realise that language can indeed be a barrier and try to help. École Polytechnique (France), for example, offers a three-month preparation on campus before the start of the semester, whereby international students get intensive French lessons and scientific courses to familiarise themselves with the French problem-solving approach.
“International students enjoy special attention from the school administration,” said Clara Carrera, who joined École Polytechnique in a two-year international exchange programme.
In addition to everyday situations, you will be using the language for academic purposes. You will write papers, do presentations, and participate in classroom discussions about complex topics. And before you know it, you may even catch yourself thinking in the foreign language.
Studying for a Masters degree in another country gives you the opportunity to secure internships with foreign companies. This represents a real boost to your career because it will enable you to grow by leaps and bounds professionally. You will have a taste of the work environment of a foreign firm and, depending on the country and the company, you may even get paid well.
Many universities and business schools are well aware of the benefit of internships and are therefore actively offering such opportunities. Syracuse University (US) is one of those schools. It allows undergraduate and graduate students to participate in the so-called D'Aniello Entrepreneurial Internship Programme and work directly with an entrepreneur, president, or senior executive in a high-growth, innovative company located in the greater-Syracuse metropolitan area in the state of New York.
Employees will appreciate your desire to get some work experience while studying, but above all, it will enhance your understanding of the job market and the way companies in a particular country function.
The decision to study in a foreign country is not made light-heartedly. It takes guts. Will I be able to cope in an unfamiliar environment? Are my language skills sufficient? What will I do if I run out of money halfway through the programme? Will I be able to adapt to the new study environment and teaching methods?
There are so many uncertainties to consider that you could be forgiven for deciding against venturing abroad for your Masters degree. That is why the decision to go for the difficult option, even though the odds are stacked against you, indicates steely resolve and courage.
How to gain admission to a reputable programme
Gaining quality education and thus great international career prospects requires commitment. Programmes represented at the AccessMasters events, for instance, are interested in recruiting students from all parts of the world, but, of course, provided they meet their admissions requirements. Universities and business schools participating in these events are looking for prospective students with sufficient language skills, a strong academic record, and a clear idea of how the school they have chosen can help them achieve their goals. Why are universities so selective? Because knowledge, determination, and clear goals are essential for success in graduate school, and equally so for international career development.
A piece of good news is that many top universities, local and international organisations offer merit-based scholarships in order to support the best students. To obtain such a scholarship aspirants usually need a strong academic record from their Bachelor’s studies and/or high scores on admission tests such as GRE and GMAT. Be sure to check the website of the university you want to apply to for scholarship opportunities and read the requirements carefully. Bear in mind that competition for merit-based scholarship is severe, but if you meet all eligibility requirements it is always worth applying for financial assistance.
Here is another caveat: a Masters abroad should not be confused with a holiday abroad or as a work and travel opportunity. Of course, you will have the chance to travel and go to parties, but your most important task will be to apply yourself and work hard. Juggling studies and work can be quite difficult, so make sure you go into this adventure with the right mind-set. However, if you want to combine all these experiences, look for programmes that have integrated in their curriculum exchange programmes and internships.
International Masters programmes are tailored to the requirements of today’s multinational job market. They offer a lot, but also require dedication, responsibility, and hard work. If you believe you have what it takes to succeed, go for it!