AFS develops active global citizens who help make the world a better place. Our study abroad programs empower young people from all backgrounds with essential global skills—and the passion for making a difference. These essential global skills and benefits can be used to build your resume and land your dream job.
In a study by the Institute of International Education, the connection between study abroad and the development of skills that contribute to employment and career development were explored: “Among students who studied abroad for one academic year, 68 percent reported studying abroad contributing to a job offer or promotion, compared to just 43 percent of alumni who studied abroad for fewer than eight weeks.”
“The top five skills, with more than 70 percent of respondents saying their study abroad experience contributed to a significant degree of improvement, were: intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility/adaptability, confidence, and self-awareness. In addition, more than 50 percent noted significant gains in interpersonal and problem-solving skills.”
Similarly, in a survey conducted by IES Abroad, a leading not-for-profit provider of study abroad programs for U.S. college and university students, 97% of university students who studied abroad were employed within a year of graduating. That’s compared to only 49% of graduates who found a job in that first year. And, study abroad student’s starting salaries were 25% higher than their peers who did not study abroad.
While our programs are primarily for high school students, the skills gained abroad are the same. Regardless of your dreams or chosen career path, studying abroad is an asset that will strengthen your resume and bring your goals within reach by developing these skills:
Speaking a second language increases cognitive abilities like problem solving, creativity, and memory. Becoming and being bilingual makes you smarter! “The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks.”
In addition, there’s social rewards to multilingualism that make you a desirable candidate to future employers. Multilingualism requires consideration, intuition, and awareness. People raised in multilingual environments are adept at seeing other people’s perspectives. The ability to look beyond our own worldview and demonstrate empathy is crucial, both in the workplace and beyond.
According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages: “They [language skills] are among the top eight skills required of all occupations—no matter your sector or skill level—and the demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially. In fact, between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. job postings specifically geared toward bilingual candidates more than doubled.”
Forming close relationships with people from diverse cultures improves your creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, which is valuable because in a rapidly changing world, we need to innovate and quickly solve persistent problems and new ones that arise: “’Intercultural relationships lead you to switch your cognitive frameworks, and push you outside the box.’” On a study abroad program, you’ll form the long-lasting, meaningful relationships needed to deepen your creativity.
Global competency is crucial to the future success of businesses. More people are working in an international context as they interact with companies from around the world. When you study abroad, you increase your global competency because your worldview is consistently challenged. Studying abroad increases respect for other people and their ideas, beliefs, and values.
When you’re placed in a completely new environment among new people, that requires a large amount of communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. People who leave their comfort zones tend to acquire the maturity, flexibility, and empathy that makes them an asset in any workplace. Increasing research boasts the value of emotional intelligence—the ability to understand both your feelings and the feelings of others—in the workplace.
Comfort in trying new things
It’s a brave thing to study abroad for the first time. It’s an entirely new experience, with a new family, school, language, and group of friends. Not to mention all the new foods, customs, and activities you’ll experience while you’re there. Did you know, though, that trying new things is actually good for our brain?
“It turns out that the human brain has a great potential for something called neuronal plasticity—that is, it’s malleable. It appears that challenging our brains—for example, by learning a new skill—leads to actual changes in the adult brain.”
When you study abroad, not only will your brain exhibit greater neuroplasticity, you’ll embody the confidence required to tackle many more new experiences that come your way.
Studying abroad offers an incomparable richness, both in skills and experiences acquired. Once you complete your program as an AFS Alum, you can stay connected on our Returnees page, which will provide networking opportunities and ways of becoming a global ambassador.