STUDENT LIFE / SEP. 24, 2014
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How to Advance Your Career as a Foreign Exchange Student

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For those students who decide to study abroad for a semester or for an entire school year, the experience can and should be beneficial to future career growth. There are many benefits to studying abroad as a foreign exchange student, such as: educational and personal growth as well as future career advancement. During the normal college experience in your own resident country, you will experience personal and educational growth and development. However, imagine how much more growth you could experience through a foreign exchange program. This article will discuss how to advance your career as a foreign exchange student.

Benefits of Studying Abroad

1. Educational Growth

When a high school or college student decides to study abroad, he or she will have the opportunity to learn in ways that they are unfamiliar with. By studying under new teaching techniques and unique academic courses specifically offered through certain universities, an individual can experience life in a new way and gain an advanced perspective on other cultures. Studying through these foreign educational processes can help you grow educationally and enhance the learning process through increased retention of knowledge.

2. Personal Growth

When you attend college, you will begin to learn more about yourself as an individual and ascertain your likes, dislikes, interests and life goals. Your point of view is expanded in a way that doesn’t happen as quickly if you don’t attend a college or university. When attending school in a foreign country for a semester or year abroad, you have the opportunity to develop personally at an exponential rate as you immerse yourself into another culture and their experiences. Your own beliefs and opinions are then challenged—in a good way—as you learn how others of a different culture think and believe on similar issues. Such personal growth will positively affect your future life and professional career.

3. Career Advancement

One of the best ways to advance your career as a foreign exchange student is to utilize your experience abroad to your advantage when you return home and begin seeking employment. Students who have studied abroad have an advantage in the workplace compared to those students who have not spent any time abroad to study. The following are some reasons why a prospective employer would hire a candidate who studied abroad over a candidate who did not.

  • Creative Thinkers – can think outside the box because they have been immersed into a different cultural experience and learned how to survive in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Communication Skills – have the ability to adeptly communicate with others as shown by their willingness to step outside their comfort zone and speak with others from another culture and learn from them.
  • Intrepid Attitude – are not afraid to step into unknown situations and can think on their feet to create positive solutions for negative problems.
  • Cultured Perspective – have taken the time to travel to another country with an open-mind and a desire to genuinely learn about other people, their beliefs and values.

Employers are drawn to such creative and fearless communicators—like flies are mesmerized by the light. You need to showcase your experience in a good light on your resume. In a StudyAbroad.com article, Rachael Kroot shared about her experience taking a semester abroad in London. When she returned home, her friend asked her how had she changed the most? It was a great question that turned the wheels in Rachael’s mind on how to add her new independence, growth and personal development to her resume. She shared some tips in her article in StudyAbroad.com.  

Taking Full Advantage of your Time Abroad

Everyone has different reasons for deciding to study abroad. However, if you have in mind to advance your future career, the following suggestions will help you to take full advantage of your time abroad.

  • Journaling – keep a journal to track your thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences during your time abroad. It will become a keepsake to always remember your trip. However, it will also serve as a good tool in tracking important factors that can be added to your resume, personal portfolio or career portfolio.
  • Get Involved – learn how to interact well with other students, professors and teachers and begin to cultivate and develop your professional support network.

Taking a semester or year abroad is an enlightening experience for any high school or college aged student. It provides you with the opportunity to experience educational and personal growth as well as the chance to advance your future career. Employers are drawn to prospective employees who have traveled abroad for educational purposes and who are creative thinkers with excellent communication skills and a fearless attitude.

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