College Tourist Exclusive Interview with Intern Queen Lauren Berger on Study Abroad and Your Resume.
By College Tourist of 03/23/15
The value of study abroad to prospective employers and why you should know about it. #GenerationStudyAbroad
1. As globalization is a reality in business now, do you think having International study abroad or Internship experience abroad can give you and edge with in the current job market?
Yes, interning abroad or studying abroad definitely gives you a competitive edge. The key is really understanding what the internship coordinator or hiring manager is looking for and being able to relate your experience abroad to that position. You have to explain to the employer why that experience abroad makes you the best fit for the position. Don’t assume the employer will connect the dots.
2. A lot of students go abroad for language immersion courses, is being fluent in a foreign language an essential part of a resume or just a bonus?
It all depends on the company and industry and location of the business. Several businesses in the US do business with English-speaking companies only and they only do business in the US. For those types of companies who might not be looking to expand into an international market – speaking another language might be a bonus but might not actually help in getting the position – as it might not be a skill they care about. However, in other positions and at other companies they might do business in several countries, communicate in different languages, and really value your skillset. It all goes back to understanding the company, the role, and what that company is specifically looking for.
3. Intercultural communication skills are gained abroad, do you feel these are valuable skills for students and can they be transferred into the workplace here?
Yes, learning how to communicate and work with people from other cultures and customs is extremely important – not just for work – but for life. You never know who you will need to work with or do business with and the lessons you will learn abroad will stick with you for life and really give you an appreciation of other cultures and where others come from.
4. Travel exposes students to greater cultural diversity. How do the resulting social and interactive skills translate into a work environment with multiple personality types?
I went to my first business meeting in Korea and learned that when someone gives you a business card – they hand it over with both hands – it’s part of their culture. Because of that experience, whenever I’m dealing with Korean businessmen or businesswomen I’m ready for that and can reciprocate it. This is an example of how and experience I had abroad still benefits me today. Take note of the behaviors you learn and the customs you learn from other cultures while traveling. I promise – they will come in handy. You never know who you will work with, negotiate with, or sit next to in the office.
5. Do you feel that the independence and confidence in decision making found in students who have traveled abroad better prepares them for work-life?
I can’t make an overall generalization about this but I have seen students come back from interning or studying abroad with an increased confidence level – more sure of themselves, more sure of where they want to be. Confidence is something that helps young people in every part of life –especially in the workplace.
6. Students meet, interact and learn new ideas from a multitude of people while studying abroad, what is the advantage of learning these networking skills?
The more experiences you have – the broader your perspective will be – the more open-minded you will become. Stay in touch with these contacts and the people you meet while abroad as our world is getting smaller and smaller and as we grow – you will interact with people internationally more and more. You’ll find that in the work place you also are able to broaden your perspective, think in a more open-minded fashion, and use your experiences to problem-solve.
7. College Tourist believes in the experiential learning that comes from travel. What are the specific life skills that you see students gaining from learning outside the classroom?
Students learn so much from traveling – they get life experiences – they learn everything from how to communicate with people who don’t speak their language to how to handle themselves when their trains aren’t on time (or when life doesn’t go their way). This experience will mature them and humble them.
8. Do you find that employers are focusing more on GPA or on the well rounded resume that includes travel? Do you see travel as an education in itself?
Employers who have traveled themselves or are hiring for a job that incorporates travel or dealing with international colleagues tend to really value travel on a resume. I see internship experiences and travel experiences as an important education for young people. I didn’t study abroad in college and it’s probably my one regret!
9. In the environment of study abroad, students are faced with critical thinking and problem solving situations as global citizens. How is this global citizenship viewed by employers?
Again, if employers are hiring for a position where experiences and travel are key – they will consider these factors. But for companies hiring an entry-level candidates to work in the US – to do business with the US – with no travel required – they might not value these travel lessons as much. See more from the Intern Queen and the latest Internships on The Intern Queen.