Study abroad is important for every college student to experience to help us prepare for work and life in today’s globalized world. Today, most employers are looking to hire people who are able to thrive in an international setting. They don’t want to have to worry about how you’re going to do; they want to know you’ve already experienced a similar environment. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to study your area of focus in a different country with students from all over the world. Such programs aid in foreign language proficiency and provide cross cultural experiences and skills, plus it’s a great travel opportunity.
Students who study abroad gain a competitive edge in the job world. Guru Ghosh, the director of global education at William and Mary College, acknowledges in Shawn Days’ Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News article that we are not only going to be competing with “friends and neighbors for jobs, but also the best minds from the Philippines and China” when we enter the workforce. Ghosh, a native of India, goes on to explain that we must be prepared for an “increasingly global society” and therefore must “acquaint [ourselves] with different cultures.”
Even the U.S. government is beginning to realize they are losing ground when it comes to educating students to be able to compete globally. According to Beth McMurtrie’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would “greatly increase the number of American students studying abroad” through financial aid.
Targeted News Service’s Ill Dekalb wrote that, “There are dozens of options” for students to find a program that is right for them. Some students choose to spend a normal semester or a year taking a variety of classes, and others choose “to focus on a topic such as art history in Rome, history in Malaysia or marketing in Ireland.” If you look into it, you will find that most schools offer programs in any country you could imagine from Russia to Costa Rica, where you can study your major or future profession from a global perspective.
In many advanced countries, students simply expect that they will study in another country at some point during their education. Many universities have partnerships and large scale exchanges with foreign universities. Such programs are not nearly as common in the United States. According to McMurtrie, only “1 percent of all U.S. college students” studied abroad during the 2004 academic year. At this rate, the U.S. higher education system as a whole is seriously losing ground when it comes to preparing us to compete globally. Those of us however, who take the initiative to study abroad will be more prepared when up against students already knowledgeable of other cultures who come to the U.S. for further education or to work.
We will not only be competing with other local students when we enter the workforce, but also with students from all other countries of the world. And who knows? If that guy from Italy or Japan speaks more languages than you, and knows how to conduct business with people from other cultures, then guess who’s probably getting that position you wanted? Maybe it’s time to look into a study abroad program to boost your resume and get you ready for the international business world that lies ahead.
Originally published in YoungMoney