Update #2: Benefits, foreseen and unforeseen

**Disclaimer: I forgot to post these progress reports throughout my research, but I will try to post reflective accounts of the different stages of my research**

After reading through the first group of studies, it seemed clear to me that there are observable benefits for students studying abroad. However, I was still wondering about academic and future employment benefits, so I continued researching.

I learned that internships abroad can be very valuable on a resume, as they have the potential to show that you have had some experience in your field of employment before, but the actual content of your internship is not as important as I would have thought. I discovered that in the modern era, people will change careers an average of six times in their lives, so employers are searching for people who can adapt to their work environment and communicate effectively with their coworkers. Study abroad has been shown to improve both skills, especially within the context of the current internationally connected world.

Another skill that can be very important when thinking ahead to possible employment opportunities at multinational corporations is the ability to speak another language. A common expression when I was growing up asserts that “practice makes perfect,” so the opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a different language by travelling to a country in which it is spoken provides plenty of circumstances to communicate about topics that may not have been covered in a classroom setting. Learning the basic sentence structure and verb conjugations of a different language are important, but can you ask to try a new flavor of gelato or talk about political views while you watch the news with your host mother? 🙂

As I was told by my professor in Spain this past summer, learning a different language allows you to experience the world through a different lens. Every culture has their own perception of the world around them, and by learning their language, you become able to place yourself in someone’s else’s metaphorical shoes and examine a problem from a different perspective. This ability to evaluate a scenario from multiple viewpoints can be very valuable when trying to negotiate with others, whether in a work setting or in daily life, because it allows you to see what different people value. An employer would look for someone who can communicate and work effectively with people of different backgrounds to achieve a common goal.

The academic benefits of a study abroad program are linked with these employment themes because many programs include classes or research abroad, which can be applied toward majors or minors that are requirements for future jobs. Improving listening, reading, and writing skills in a new language can, obviously, help students in their future classes on campus in those languages but can also help them communicate more effectively in their native language because they can acknowledge differences in parts of speech and syntax that affect how their message comes across to the listener.

An effect of study abroad that I had not foreseen was that students often were exposed to different fields of study during their experience. Then, when they returned to campus, students took classes in a greater variety of classes in order to expand the breadth of their knowledge, and many students discovered a passion for their future career either during their study abroad or in the later classes.

Comments

  1. kjwiese16 says:

    Kaitlyn,

    I love this idea for a summer research because it is so true that universities emphasize the experience as a way to broaden your perspective and bring it back to campus but they rarely talk about how a study abroad can affect a student’s future employment opportunities. If I had to guess it probably depends on what level the student chooses to throw themselves into the culture and society. I imagine that living with a host family and watching them go through daily life for a year is radically different than attending a satellite campus full of other similar students. Also, to what extent they try and find a job in the city they are visiting.

    I was wondering if you plan to draw any conclusions from your personal experience in Cadiz? I’m sure you learned a lot and have brought back new perspectives from 5 weeks in Spain. In what ways do you think this trip will affect you in the future? Did you make certain decisions while abroad (ex: talking with local vendors, visiting a local school, etc.) that you think future employers might appreciate that you would recommend to other students looking to study abroad?