International education is not just about finding better career opportunities around the world. Studying in a foreign country is a life-changing experience for those who return and decide to build a career at home too.
When you travel, you learn so much more than what your academic curriculum has to offer. You get to map out your strengths and weaknesses, improve your networking skills, expand your circle of friends and acquaintances, and simply gain life experience which is immensely valuable.
If you have decided to return to your home country after obtaining your degree abroad, you will reap the benefits of the entire experience in a number of ways.
Employers value your international experience
It is no secret to anyone that the world is more globalised and connected than it has ever been. Those who are curious and ambitious have more opportunities nowadays to study, read, travel, and get to know different cultures. Curiosity can be nurtured even with a simple browse through the Internet.
Employers too want to take advantage of this trend towards globalisation by hiring talented individuals who are citizens of the world. Having a team which is diverse, knowledgeable, and experienced in an international environment ultimately benefits the products or services of that organisation. Graduates who have conducted their education abroad can rely on their unique point of view once they are back in their home country. It helps them develop critical thinking and opens the door to new ideas in the workplace. For many companies, cultivating this type of global mindset is the key to understanding the cross-cultural complexities of business. Can you imagine how much more difficult that would be for a professional with no international outlook at all?
The not-for-profit organisation IES Abroad also points out that an international diploma listed on your CV/resume can definitely enhance your chances for job success. “Having taken this initiative not only says something about your academic achievements, but also about your personal ambition and determination. More and more employers are seeking out culturally aware and experienced employees who can work effectively in an increasingly global workplace.”
International studies help you grow as a person
As we noted earlier, international education is just as important for your personal development, cultural awareness, and soft skills as it is for your professional self. That is why top international schools pay significant attention to assisting students in their journey of self-discovery.
Jennifer DeKnight, who attended the American University of Beirut (AUB) (Lebanon), is among the many students who have made their decision to study abroad based on a desire for personal growth. “Choosing to come to graduate school at AUB was always about more than just the coursework,” she says. “I hoped to gain professional, academic, and linguistic experience that wouldn’t have been available to me if I attended a university at home in the US.”
Speaking of linguistic experience, your foreign language skills will also improve significantly and that is no small accomplishment. Practising the language spoken locally on the street, on the grounds of the university campus, and when socialising is a process that is unique to each country around the world. It is not something you can practise in the classroom. Some universities invest in this aspect of education even further by incorporating additional language courses in their programmes and by organising study abroad initiatives for current students. The study of English and one other foreign language is compulsory at the Ingénieur Polytechnicien programme at École Polytechnique (France) and students can even begin studying a third foreign language. In addition, if you are admitted to the programme, you will be required to spend at least 12 weeks abroad – either to study at another university, or to complete an internship, allowing you to get to know even more international destinations first-hand.
Be prepared for the adjustment phase
While gaining international experience is incredibly valuable, it is also essential to have realistic expectations of the post-graduation employment process once you are back home. Do not expect to get off the plane and have a dozen job offers lined up for you. As a fresh graduate, you will have to put in some work adjusting to your post-study environment and locating a suitable career opportunity for yourself.
When speaking to potential employers, try to have a clear idea of why your educational journey abroad matters and how the company will be able to benefit from your international exposure. As The Guardian points out, studying abroad “develops your respect for other cultures and viewpoints, and indicates a desire to challenge yourself,” – so do your best to channel this learning experience when planning your future career endeavours.
Most of all, your study and travel adventures abroad will make you more independent and adaptable – qualities that will be useful in your personal life as well as in your professional career. You will make friends and memories for life. Embrace the experience!