How international experiences are of benefit

If you are able to gain international experience during your studies at university or before you decide to start your first full time job within your chosen industry, the benefits are life-lasting.

The question is, why are so many students and graduates overlooking the opportunity to gain some work experience abroad? Is it fear? Is it shyness? Or maybe they are just oblivious to what’s out there?

Either way, whether it’s during your studies or after you graduate, I highly recommend that you look into opportunities in your field. In this article I’m going to briefly explain the benefits to your career by being exposed to different cultures and experiences.

What are the options?
First you have to conduct some research. Think of what type of experience you want and what you want to gain from it. Once you have decided this then it is just a case of exploring opportunities to see which matches your requirements best. There are different ways of gaining international experiences abroad. The first is to consider doing an internship abroad. You can choose to do an internship related to your current or previous studies which you can then use to help you get your first full time job in industry.

Alternatively if you would like a more balanced experience which isn’t so heavily work orientated, you can opt to do some voluntary work abroad either in your industry or unrelated. This is especially relevant to any career where there is a lot of people interaction or if you have a high sense of social responsibility.

What do the experts say?
Well other than myself, there are many experts from various industries and backgrounds who agree about the importance and benefits of international cultural experiences.

Oliver Watson, chief board director of Michael Page, one of the largest recruitment consultancies in the UK says that it is highly regarded. He says that due to companies operating over so many international borders, the more language and experience from different cultures you can bring to the company, the more you can help them with their global reach.

Peter Lacy, Managing Director of growth and strategy at Accenture says that it is a crucial differentiator for current and future leaders.

What’s really in it for me?
From working with many graduates, I can tell you that the majority who have taken opportunities to gain international experiences tend to be the most dynamic.

What do I mean by this? You see, working or experiencing things from another cultures adds so much more to your current skill set. Seeing working practices and approaches from a different perspective, testing your own boundaries and adapting to new challenging situations are all highly desirable qualities that you can bring to any job in your career.

Being abroad enhances these qualities due to the fact that your immediate environment forces you to take these qualities to another level.

Final Thought
Everyone wants to be seen as outstanding, and that is being out of the conventional norm. Gaining some international experience immediately puts you out of that normality. Remember, high grades and good results are important but in today’s job market, experience is everything, so go out there and experience all that you can.

Start exploring our opportunities portal: opportunities.aiesec.org