Education Abroad and its Value in the Job Market

David J. Comp INTERNATIONAL HIGHER EDUCATION CONSULTING During the 2000-01 academic year, more than 154,168 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit (IIE, 2002, p. 17). Students return to their home campuses more mature, culturally sensitive, knowledgeable of international issues and proficient/fluent in foreign languages. Numerous research studies have confirmed these and many other outcomes from studying abroad. Surprisingly, little attention has been paid to the value educational experiences abroad have on the career development of undergraduate students. We see the occasional article in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Fortune Magazine or The New York Times touting the advantages students who studied abroad have over their peers (those who did not have an international educational experience) in a competitive and globalized job market. For instance, the student who studied Business and Economics for a year in India and supplemented her studies with an internship with a brokerage firm active at The Stock Exchange, Mumbai will be a much more attractive applicant to an investment firm looking to fill a Global Equities Portfolio Manager position than her peer who had a similar academic/internship experience in the United States. Nursing, Social Work or Education students who study abroad in Mexico will gain valuable insight into their professions as well as cultural and language skills that will serve as assets when applying for jobs working with Hispanic populations. Study abroad, however, is much more than gaining an edge on the resume or in securing an interview. Students who study abroad are able to take what they learn abroad and apply it to real life situations during their work. This is the true advantage of an educational experience abroad for both the students and their employers. It’s critical that Career Services and Study Abroad personnel collaborate to develop and promote quality educational programs abroad so students can take what they learn and apply this knowledge and skills to their careers.

An annotated bibliography of articles and research studies on education abroad and the career development of students is available by e-mailing . Reference Koh, H-K. (Ed.). (2002). Open Doors: Report on International Educational Exchange. New York: Institute of International Education.

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