Working abroad: What are the advantages?
Spain by sim00n
Michelle Bendel is the founder of Placement Finders, a website dedicated to finding students a placement in Spain on their year abroad. Here, she gives her views on the benefits of working abroad, and how her own year abroad helped her in her career choice...A placement abroad is, in my opinion, an opportunity to develop a whole set of skills: employability, experience, the chance to get to know other people and their working habits and acquire valuable life skills. Given the choice of a placement abroad or an unpaid internship in the UK, I would 100% opt for the chance to go abroad. Comparing the two seems futile; an opportunity to work abroad just has that extra factor to it.
For those studying languages at university, spending time abroad experiencing the workplace first hand and, at the same time, improving language skills, is absolutely, by far, the most positive move anyone can make. It helps you on a personal level as well as on an academic level and puts you ahead of your peers in terms of your career, as you’ll have gained experience abroad. Work experience in a foreign country helps you stand out from the crowd which is a benefit in an increasingly competitive market and is also important in terms of emerging economies and globalisation. For graduates entering the job market, real hands-on experience is a great asset; the few who know the labour markets, labour cultures and languages of foreign countries are the ones that will do well. I thoroughly enjoyed my own internships abroad; I obtained a real understanding of the culture and the workplace in Europe. After spending 5 months in France and 5 months in Spain, I was able to really understand the languages (both in a social and a commercial context) - my accent improved immensely and I found I learnt more in that space of time than in the 6 years at school/university! I would even go as far as saying, for me, it was the best part of my degree! An experience I will never forget. I enjoyed it so much I chose to set up a business helping others to find work experience abroad. Even for non-language students, the option of a work placement abroad offers so many benefits and will add something quite unbeatable to the CV; it shows someone as adaptable, confident, and it is also a chance to build a portfolio of contacts, as it can be a 'foot in the door'. A work placement abroad is demanding and challenging, it is a learning experience. You will not only learn about the business world but also about yourself. You will gain a lot, in terms of self-confidence, as well as improve organisational and personal skills. You will also discover what areas of business interest you at a very early stage of your career, which is vitally important when it comes to applying for jobs when you leave university. Most importantly, a work placement abroad gives you commercial credibility. At university we learn a lot and it is a great start but we need to put what we learn into practice, not just when we leave but during our time at uni. University is the theory and a placement abroad is the practice. By opting for a placement abroad you are putting theory into practice - it’s like driving a car, you can’t do one without the other. It is also a fantastic experience that will stay with you forever, and most of all, it is lots of fun! So...If given the option of a work placement abroad, go for it! You won't regret it.