So you’ve decided to study abroad? Congratulations!
Let’s look at your predeparture check list:
- Pack toothbrush, toothpaste and underwear
- Remember to complete all necessary paperwork for the Study Abroad Office
- Find passport!
- Meet with a career counselor
Internships and community service abroad
There is so much to be gained on the career front through study abroad. A recent post on the Abroad101 blog highlights the importance of looking for study abroad programs that offer opportunities for internships and community service:
“Many successful programs are…providing global citizenship through interactive cultural field work along with pre-professional skills through foreign internship placements. Students should consider these aspects of a program when researching options, as the ability to integrate with locals in their foreign destination as well as exposure to the local economy and job market provide invaluable insights and growth. ”
Study abroad as a transformative experience
If “career” hasn’t crossed your mind by the time you decide to study abroad, this is a good time to start. The study abroad experience is about “transformation”. A career counselor can aid in guiding you through the career portion of that transformation by crafting a list of tasks to accomplish while you’re abroad. Schedule an appointment with a counselor and come prepared with a list of questions and issues. If you’ve never met with a career counselor, then your questions are easy:
- I’m studying abroad next semester, and I thought I’d come in to see how I can make the most of my time away. What should I be thinking about and doing?
- Will I need a resume while I’m abroad? Should I add my study abroad to the resume now, even though I haven’t started yet?
- Can you help me find an internship while I’m abroad?
- What’s the best way to stay in contact with Career Services (email, phone, Skype)?
- Can I apply for jobs and internships while I’m away? How do interviews work?
Study abroad and career development
Study abroad can serve as an intentional introduction to career development. Martin Tillman, Associate Director of Career Services at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and contributor to Impact of Education Abroad on Career Development, wrote:
“We live in a challenging era with increased pressures on our workforce due to globalization and the demands of complex political, social and economic forces. At the same time students have an unprecedented range of opportunities availble to broaden their world view and deepen their understanding of global issues-whether through formal study abroad programs, non-credit experiential learning programs, volunteer projects or work abroad. However, as several authors point out, students too frequently accumulate international experiences in an ad hoc fashion, absent any clear relationship to their curricular choices and unrelated to their career goals. In addition, even with the best of intentions, students have difficulty articulating- in resumes and job interviews- how their travel, study or work abroad experience informs their overall career decision-making.”
Tillman recognizes that upon returning from study abroad, students and career counselors should reflect on the student’s experience and make sense of how it fits into the bigger picture of what comes next for the student. This means discussing what the student learned, how the student was challenged, and how values and interests changed or developed.
Study abroad influences work abroad after graduation
Many students who study abroad as undergraduates express an interest in working abroad after graduation. Whether it is returning to the same region or exploring a new country, the study abroad experience empowers them to be able to look for an international job or volunteer opportunity. A study abroad experience can transform a student’s personal brand from domestic to global in just a few months.
Nicole Anderson is an Assistant Director/Career Counselor for Tufts University Career Services. With fourteen years of experience in college career services, Nicole’s expertise includes career counseling undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni from liberal arts, science, engineering, business, and education.