5 ways a Year Abroad makes you more employable
This article was written by Charlotte Daniels, published on 21st February 2018 and has been read 3050 times.
Charlotte is a final year undergraduate student at The University of Warwick studying BA French and Spanish and has just completed her Year Abroad (2016-2017) teaching English as part of the British Council's Language Assistant scheme. She is a Brand Ambassador for the FCO. Here are 5 reasons that studying or working abroad makes you more employable...
1. Employers value language skills
The most obvious benefit of spending a year studying/teaching in a foreign-speaking country has to be the language skills you acquire! The eternal challenge of the year abroad student is to be able to pass as a native speaker in their chosen country. Whether native fluency is the goal, or you just want to be able to get by, you’ll soon find yourself improving drastically by immersing yourself in the culture and conversing daily with native speakers. This will become an invaluable asset when entering the world of work. In today’s globalised market place, you don’t necessarily need to be a translator or an interpreter to make use of your language skills. It will really give you an edge over other candidates when it comes to job applications as more and more businesses in the UK are dealing with overseas clients and suppliers.
2. You will become more confident and independent
Spending a year in a foreign country will definitely force you to step out of your comfort zone, adapt quickly to new and often daunting situations, and become whole lot more more independent. Help is not quite so easily accessible when living abroad compared to back home, and things are not going to get sorted unless you learn to take the initiative. Even basic things such as setting up accommodation, bills, phone contracts, job applications and all the other bureaucracy that comes along with moving will all be initially challenging, especially as it will all be done in a completely foreign language!
Nevertheless, as time goes on you’ll learn how to cope with such challenges, adopt a constructive mentality and learn from your mistakes. Remember you will always have a wealth of information at your fingertips about living abroad from bodies such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which will help guide you along the way. This includes worldwide help and services in emergencies! It’s true to say that year abroad stories of mishaps with landlords, confusions at the bank and communication hiccups on your travels all make for great character-building experiences. Your confidence will increase drastically and upon returning to the UK you’ll find yourself able to confront a far wider variety of experiences and challenges than you would have before.
3. An increased cultural awareness (including of your own culture!)
Living and working in a foreign country will undoubtedly mean meeting people from a multitude of different backgrounds and cultures. You’ll grow to realise how many misconceptions there are about various nationalities and how diverse the world really is. This includes learning about different customs and traditions in various countries, which you can read up on beforehand, but only fully comprehend when you experience first-hand. Having a high degree of cultural awareness is invaluable in the eyes of employers too. Being able to understand a different culture’s norms and codes of behaviour within a business environment is something that will give you great advantage over other candidates when applying for jobs. Whether you’re working abroad or studying abroad, you’re bound to come into contact with a wide variety of people and you’ll learn more about your own culture through doing so. By stepping out of your comfort zone you’ll start to question your own customs and norms and potentially pick up some from others during your time away too.
4. Make connections from all around the world
There’s no doubt that a year abroad will provide you with connections from all around the world. These contacts will be invaluable in the future and open so many opportunities for you to travel and visit others across the globe. With the advanced technology of today, it’s so easy to keep in touch with people regardless of what part of the world they’re from and therefore friends you make on your year abroad can hopefully be friends you keep for life.
5. Opens doors to job opportunities abroad in the future
At an interview, you’ll find yourself with countless stories illustrating those greatly sought after ‘transferable’ skills such as organisation, confidence, leadership and communication skills. Employers like a well-rounded individual. You’ll be able to illustrate you’re not just able to pass exams, you can organise, travel, be a responsible individual and all whilst doing so in a language that is not your mother tongue. Furthermore, a year abroad definitely broadens your horizons in terms of foreign jobs too. With the contacts you’ve made and the experiences you have, you’ll find so many foreign employers seeking employees just like you – especially with English as your native language. The world seems a lot smaller after a year working and travelling in a foreign country and you’ll find yourself more willing to take opportunities further afield.
Undoubtedly, a year abroad shows that you are adaptable, confident and independent. Plus, you also have the benefit of a nice additional, much-needed ‘cushion’ year to gain extra experience before facing the daunting job applications in final year.
Ultimately, your year abroad provides you with incredible transferable skills and certainly gives you that extra edge over other graduates. The year abroad will help shape you as an individual and give you countless memories. However, in order to ensure these memories are ones you want to remember, always ensure that you are Travel Aware by following the FCO on Facebook and Twitter as well as checking their website for frequent updates on your chosen destination.