Your Future Career: Describing Leadership Qualities Gained from Education Abroad

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Higher education has become increasingly about career paths and landing a flashy job. While I don’t always agree that this is the primary goal of education (I think it is to practice the life skill of learning and reflecting), we all do need a job. Hopefully, we want a career that is fulfilling and allows for us to be a catalyst of positive change in this world. Students who have been abroad for study, volunteer, internship, teaching or some other endeavor, have a much better understanding of the impact that can be made on the world and how important it is to reflect on the skills that were gained as a direct result of going abroad.

The challenge is how to step away from the ubiquitous buzzwords we hear every day when we talk about education abroad and to dig much deeper than that. Today, I’m going to offer up some tasty ideas about how to link your experiences abroad with something much powerful to a potential employer than what we often hear – “it was transformational.”

I recently came across “4 C’s of Leadership,” in describing the mission of Columbia College in South Carolina. These four Cs intrigued me because they are critical to leadership (and therefore a meaningful career), but they are also the skills that often emerge for those who have gone abroad – whether they be realized after days, months or even years of reflection on the overseas jaunt. However, the C words are typically not what a study abroad alumni communicates upon returning home.

Allow me to link these 4C career boosting leadership qualities to adjectives that are often shared by sojourners:

  • Courage: “Though often associated with fearlessness, courage is more of a willingness to take action despite fear.” Let’s face it, it takes guts to leave your country, campus and identity for a period of time to step out of your comfort zone. Going home during spring break and partying with friends and sleeping in is the easy path. Those who go abroad do exhibit courage, which they often illustrate by sharing how “life changing” it was when they return home. Like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, education abroad morphs us from being a tad fearful to courageous – and this indeed is life changing. Using the language of courage is much more specific and tangible in an interview than that overused and non-specific “life changing.”
  • Commitment: From the values standpoint, Columbia College uses the word commitment to “describe the process of exploring communities, examining their values and goals, and choosing from among them.” As a future leader, one needs to be able to open the mind and heart to exploration of ideas, values and goals. This requires patience and an understanding of how decisions ultimately impact not only constituents and clients, but the greater world. When returning from abroad, students are often encouraged to claim the magical badge of global citizenship. (Global citizenship is not possible after a short study abroad experience, but it can put you on the lifelong quest of global citizenship –which I explained in this piece in more detail.) For the purposes of connecting the dots today, I believe that the use of the word “commitment” is much more illustrative of what we too often claim to be global citizenship. Instead, we can express that we are committed to the process of exploration, examination of values and pursuit of goals that contribute to a greater world for everyone.” This too offers more clarity than dropping the lofty “I’m a global citizen now” claim to a prospective employer.
  • Confidence: I’ll veer away from Columbia College for a moment and focus on this simple definition instead: Confidence is a trust in your own abilities. Interestingly, increased self -confidence is a term that is often expressed by those coming home. That is pretty straight forward. However, sojourners also typically express their confidence by stating that they are now more “flexible.” Time abroad does create daily opportunity after opportunity to embrace flexibility. When you have finally mastered the tube in London, you will inevitably experience a tube strike. You have to figure some other mode of transportation out, even if it means that you have to pull out a map and walk a few miles to your flat or try a bus you never planned on stepping on. Those humbling experiences, when you are forced to be flexible and quickly realize that you CAN work through those little challenges, can and do build confidence. So when tempted to describe how flexible you are, instead also relate it to your level of confidence. This is something all employers are seeking, particularly in those who are “green” to the full time employment scene.
  • Competent: Let’s return the Columbia College mission. It describes competence as “the ability to identify and pursue specific opportunities for change, to plan and implement specific actions.” This series of skills are often described by returned students as “productivity” – or achieving results. For example, a student who has returned from an internship abroad may tell you that s/he was very productive abroad, but could instead be telling you (and those s/he is interviewing with) that time abroad enhanced his/her competency instead. Productive sounds like a skill for the worker bee, competency sounds like the skillset of a future leader. Competency also offers the ability to explain areas of competence such as enhanced cross-cultural skills, improved language skills, awareness of accounting practices used abroad in an internship, different methods of academic research, improved understanding of power dynamics and so much more.

What other over used terms are you hearing out there in the study abroad sphere? How else can you see linking these terms with employer friendly language?

 

 

About the Author:

Melissa Gluckmann, contributor to the Studyabroad101 Blog and founder of Melibee GlobalMissy Gluckmann is the Founder of Melibee Global, which aims to elevate the discussion about education abroad, culture, diversity and the lifelong path to global citizenship by offering trailblazing tools, speakers and professional development for the global education and travel communities. Raised in New York, Missy has lived abroad three times and traveled to dozens of countries. Missy currently resides in North Carolina and experiences culture shock there on a daily basis! She can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

The Study Abroad Advantage

 

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Putting the Ideals of Study Abroad into Practice,
Abroad101 Announces “The Study Abroad Advantage”

International education software company extends its platform to help students advance their careers.

 

Abroad101 has launched an initiative called “The Study Abroad Advantage.” Designed to help college students gain an edge in the job market after graduation, this collaborative effort involves students, college advisors and prospective employers. Students start their Advantage with a capstone summary of their education abroad published on Abroad101. This review is then shared via social networks and other outlets with prospective employers who are looking for students with international experience, foreign language skills and the maturity that comes from being overseas.

Study Abroad is widely considered advantageous in the job market. Mark Shay, CEO of Abroad101.com stated “the goal of The Study Abroad Advantage is to put this theory into practice by providing a platform for students to showcase how they have grown and matured while overseas. For employers, The Study Abroad Advantage is a place for HR departments, hiring managers and recruiters to get a glimpse into the personality and character of the student as a prospective employee.” Connecting the two is a group on LinkedIn called “The Study Abroad Advantage.” The group was created on August 30 and was joined by over 250 students in the first 5 days. Students in the group link to their study abroad review from their Linkedin profile as a reference point, while employers and job recruiters use the group to connect and network with these stand-out students.

Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, is an early supporter of The Study Abroad Advantage. Trinity has a vibrant study abroad program and requires returning students to complete a program evaluation through Abroad 101. Nancy Ericksen, Assistant Director for Study Abroad in the International Programs Office at Trinity, says, “The future is here. With the reality of technological advances and a growing global economy, I believe that the student with international experience has an advantage in preparing for the world of tomorrow. Using The Study Abroad Advantage, our students can showcase their experience and use it in opening contact with employers – leveraging that to start their career.”

Employers are increasingly turning to the web to investigate candidates, discover how well they communicate and present themselves added Martin Tillman, President of Global Career Compass, an international consulting practice focusing on the impact of study abroad on student career development. “There is much evidence (in research conducted by both academics, private companies and research organizations) that the value-added of international education experience to a students’ career development is diminished if students cannot clearly articulate the impact of that experience. The Study Abroad Advantage is a nice way for education abroad advisors and career service counselors to harmonize their professional skills with technology to enhance the value of study abroad for their students.”

The Linkedin group is just the beginning according to Abroad101’s Shay. “We are looking forward to working with university career centers and placement offices as well as large employers to find innovative ways to help these creative, ambitious and now mature students turn their real-world experiences to leap forward in their career development. The core philosophy of The Study Abroad Advantage is to provide a platform to channel the energy and idealism fostered by international education into organizations in need of talent.”

About Abroad101

Founded in 2007, Abroad101 is the first and largest study abroad review website that also gives universities a software tool for evaluating their exchange, faculty-led, third-party provider, volunteer and internship programs. Focusing on American college students looking for a semester or term abroad, this innovative system connects past and future students, parents, advisors and program providers. As part of the platform, the Abroad101 directory of study abroad programs is the most comprehensive database in the field today. Click to learn more about Abroad101′s Study Abroad Programs, Rankings, Ratings and Reviews

 

Why should I write a review?

By guest author: Samantha Shay

 
“I learned that I am able to adjust to just about any situation.”
“The trajectory of my entire life changed because I studied abroad. And I cannot imagine my life without it now.”
“I REGRET NOTHING.”
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
“I learned to be ‘tough,’ and I grew as a person in ways I can’t explain.”
-Excerpts from some recent Abroad101 student reviews
 

A recent New York Times article stated, “Globalization is here to stay, and students who want to work in our interconnected global world should study abroad…Making study abroad a part of their education is the most effAbroad101.com write a reviewective and accessible means for students to develop needed skills because it pushes a student to get out of her comfort zone to experience another culture, language, environment and education system.”[1]With a mission to promote global citizenship by fostering the most meaningful study abroad experiences for all students through technology innovation in international education, Abroad101 has collected the stories of over 22,000 students’ international pursuits through over 8,800 abroad programs.  Whether you studied abroad to explore your heritage, pursue an academic goal or field of study, or immerse yourself in a culture different than your own, we want to add your story to our collection.

 Allan E. Goodman and Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, New York Times, May 12 2014.  http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/10/17/should-more-americans-study-abroad/every-student-should-study-abroad

Why should I write a review?

What better capstone to a life-changing experience abroad than to share your story and your advice with someone else?  Abroad101 is an abundant resource for students who are in the process of choosing an abroad program that will fit them well.  Your story could directly impact the program choice of a prospective traveler.  By submitting a review to Abroad101, you are contributing to a collective database of student stories that future abroad students can access easily.  How accessible was healthcare in your city?  Did you spend more money on food than you expected to?  How many hours a day did you speak a foreign language?  By answering these questions and others like them, you create a sketch of a prospective student’s program experience.  If while abroad you faced challenges you didn’t foresee, or elements of your program that didn’t work for you, sharing this feedback and advice for others to access is a generous way to reflect on those experiences.

By sharing a review with Abroad101, you are creating a sketch of abroad life not only for prospective students to consider, but for their families and peers to read as well.  Consider your review a tribute to protective parents everywhere.  At the recent “Women in Travel” Summit, Abroad101 received strong feedback that reviews are just as useful and enlightening to parents and teachers as they are to other students.[1]  The WITS attendees mentioned details about safety and quality of administration as top curiosities and concerns when students are choosing an abroad program.  By addressing these topics in your review, as well as answering questions that target many other aspects of your program experience, you can really illustrate what life was like for you during your semester abroad.

Your positive feedback, or constructive criticism, can benefit the future of your program.  Abroad101 offers administrators and program providers access to evaluation data collected directly from students, and they can access student reviews and feedback on our website just as easily as other students can.  Your words have the power to support a program you feel strongly about, or alternatively, to help initiate changes within a program to benefit future students’ experiences.  Additionally, since students submit reviews directly through our website and independently from the programs in which they participated, readers can trust that the reviews are as honest and unbiased as possible.

Most importantly, submitting a review of your semester abroad benefits you!  A 2010 market research study reported, “of the U.S. recruiters and HR professional surveyed, 75% report that their companies have formal policies in place that require hiring personnel to research applicants online.”[2]  According to Idealist Careers, “employees are looking for positive things: discovering how well you communicate…getting a sense of how professionally you present yourself…”[3]  Whether you plan to pursue graduate school, a job or internship, or another abroad program, having published a well constructed, thoughtful review on Abroad101 will give you an edge with employers, grad schools, and other potential post grad opportunities – show your reflective writing skills, showcasing your experience abroad, and reflecting on how your experience changed your outlook on the world.

 [1] http://www.travelgogirl.com/witsummit/
[2] http://www.job-hunt.org/guides/DPD_Online-Reputation-Research_overview.pdf via http://idealistcareers.org/employers-are-googling-you-now-what/
[3] http://idealistcareers.org/employers-are-googling-you-now-what/
[1] Allan E. Goodman and Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, New York Times, May 12 2014.  http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/10/17/should-more-americans-study-abroad/every-student-should-study-abroad

 

image of Samantha ShaySamantha Shay is a Patron Services Assistant at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and studied abroad in France.  Please read her study abroad review.

Connect with Samantha through LinkedIn

Top 5 Reasons to Write an Education Abroad Review

By Missy Gluckmann, Founder of Melibee Global (www.melibeeglobal.com)

Acting because you’re required to isn’t always exciting.  I really do ‘get’ that!

However, there is a reason that many schools and program require that education abroad participants complete an evaluation before releasing a transcript.  The good news is that there are some really positive reasons for sharing your feedback – beyond receiving your grades.

Here are my top five reasons why you should complete an education abroad review, even if you’re not ‘required’ to:

1)     Your truth can save a life

Education abroad is (or should primarily be) an academic experience.   However, the daily living realities of being abroad can feel as foreign as new skin.  Your insights into the nuances of your host city and/or country can really Female College studentimpact the lives of others who are following in your footsteps.  I’m not talking about things that seem quite important at the time of packing (‘Do I need an adapter for my hair straightener?’) but more along the variety of potentially life saving safety tips.  While it is not the norm, students have died abroad from a variety of incidents ranging from drinking too much alcohol and getting lost in frigid weather with less than adequate clothing  to drowning because of being pulled into a much stronger ocean current along the western coast of Central America.  Sharing tips with your own personal flair is what can truly save someone’s life and can be a great addition to safety tools that are available via the ClearCause Foundation.  While program advisers may write about the strength of a local ocean current in Costa Rica in pre-departure materials, reading about it from a peer who felt the overwhelming pull of the salt water and describes it as being ‘almost completely unmanageable, despite being a certified lifeguard ’ WILL resonate with future participants and their families.  Telling your peers that ‘the alcohol in the region’s pubs is 100% proof and that you really do only one third of the amount you’d drink at home before  feeling rather unaware of your surroundings’ may prevent others from putting themselves in a place of such needless risk.  Your voice carries when talking with other students.  Your voice can have that kind of power.  You can save a life by being candid in your review, while still being professional.

2)     Enhance your portfolio

Writing is a lifelong skill.  It is one that you will use in your academic  career and your job search.  Documenting your experience abroad by completing an evaluation provides a tremendous opportunity to beef up your ‘body of work’ that is available on the internet that potential employers and headhunters will peruse as they look for possible candidates for positions in their companies and organizations.  The time that you take to reflect and consider the seismic impact of an experience abroad  -and how you document that in a constructive, mature manner – may result in a new document for your ever expanding portfolio.  Potential employers are known to  ask for writing samples.  Your genuinely crafted review can serve as an sample that you’ll ultimately need in these scenarios.

3)     Reflection =  Growth

Going abroad changes you.  Coming home feels familiar but strange too – and students are typically so busy plugging back into “life” that they rarely sit down and really THINK about who they were before they departed for their host country and who they are now.  Intentionally taking time to ponder how you’ve changed and what you learned is necessary for measuring our growth.  Reflection is an art form, one that requires dedicated time and attention – and a structured set of questions to guide you.  The education abroad evaluation is an ideal way to start your reflective journey.  What was it about your program that you really appreciated? How did those well delivered (or not so well delivered) services impact you?  What would you want to change about the program and how would it impact future participants and your host community for the better?  Despite it being a ‘mandatory’ exercise in some cases, you may find that you are actually grateful for someone asking for your opinion and observing your own trajectory of growth and increased maturity.

4)     Role Reversal – You become the teacher

Part of the reason that many program administrators request or require evaluations is that they want to know what works well and what aspects of the program abroad need to be re-examined.  Despite putting a complex education abroad program together, they do not have the luxury of experiencing the program first hand as a student.  (Imagine how hard that is – crafting an exciting learning experience that involves seeing new cultures and not being able to go along with the group.  It is torture!) So, despite them preparing guidelines and tips for students prior to departure and reinforcing them in country, when you are abroad, you begin to transition to the role of ‘subject matter expert ‘ on certain aspects of the program.  You know what it is like to eat in a college cafeteria abroad every day (skip the meats but make the most of the potatoes!) or what cultural experiences are must see (the Guayasamin Museum in Quito, Ecuador is more than just a one day visit).  With this level of customized feedback in your evaluation, you’re actually TEACHING US!  What an exciting and empowering experience that is!

5)     Writing through journaling

For anyone who has kept a journal, you know the power of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and documenting your feelings, perceptions and realities in the moment.  The process of journaling is essentially documenting your life’s story, one page at a time.  The beauty of having to complete an evaluation is that you have a searchable series of life’s important memories in one place, allowing you to return to the internet to recall where your mind and body were at a specific moment in time.  Being able to jar your memory to the highs (and even the lows) of your time abroad is a simply priceless opportunity, one that you may not be able to fully appreciate until months or years later. Taking the time to review your program online may also develop into an interest in taking up journaling or even blogging.  After all, an education abroad experience is one that you will to process for your entire life.  Continuing to write about the impact of it, even decades later, is a joyful and cathartic experience.

I hope that these five tips will give you reason to pause and seriously consider how you complete a mandatory evaluation or to encourage you to consider filling one out, even if it isn’t required.  The impact truly does extend well beyond your time abroad!

 

About the Author:

Melissa Gluckmann, contributor to the Studyabroad101 Blog and founder of Melibee GlobalMissy Gluckmann is the Founder of Melibee Global, which aims to elevate the discussion about education abroad, culture, diversity and the lifelong path to global citizenship by offering trailblazing tools, speakers and professional development for the global education and travel communities. Raised in New York, Missy has lived abroad three times and traveled to dozens of countries. Missy currently resides in North Carolina and experiences culture shock there on a daily basis! She can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Take What You Learned While Studying Abroad to Land Your Dream First Job

Guest Post…

Studying abroad is one of the greatest adventures and challenges any college student can take on. Many exchange students look at it as a fun opportunity to travel, but, in all reality, it’s a whole lot more than that. The experience can impact you in a big way, including the things you’re interested in, how you see the world, and what you want to do with your life…and it can make you more marketable, too.

If you’re a college senior or have just graduated, you probably have one priority on your mind right now, and that is getting a job. But forget the notion of just getting any old job and up the ante: landing your dream position. Remember all the things you learned while studying abroad and follow these tips for transforming your application process to land the first job you’ve been dreaming about.

1) Become a scrapper.

Remember how you were forced to toughen up when you landed in your foreign destination at the beginning of your study abroad program? Maybe you didn’t know the Metro system, couldn’t speak Spanish, or were greeted with stares from the locals. Over the course of your program, you overcame your insecurities, learned to live and speak like a local, and all around toughened up. Apply those learned skills to your job search by becoming more aggressive and nimble in your application approach. Just because your dream employer doesn’t have any job listings posted doesn’t mean they may not be accepting resumes. Call to inquire about any open positions and express your interest. If you can, drop by to leave behind a hard copy of your resume; it will stand out from the boatloads they receive via email. Follow key employers on social media, read their blogs, and stay abreast of any announcements they make regarding acquisitions of new accounts, and other signs of growth. Pounce on the opportunity to send a personalized cover letter congratulating them on the news and explaining how you would be a valuable asset to their team now more than ever.

2)  Perfect your language skills.

If you learned the basics of a foreign language while abroad, now’s the time to hone those skills to perfection. Most students return from their program with strong conversational skills, yet lack the needed reading and written skills to be considered truly bilingual. Sign up for formal training, such as one-on-one tutoring, to fill out your education in the second language. Add it to your resume and talk up your enviable Italian, French, Russian, or Icelandic skills in interviews. Employers will take note of your dedication to mastering the language.

3)  Get personal.

Students who study abroad can easily fall into a trap of highlighting generic takeaways from their experience. While the fact that you made friends with people from other cultures is important, it’s critical that you share your own, more personal highlights with potential employers. On your resume, bullet point three challenges you faced and how you overcame them. In an interview, talk about how the experience changed you and ignited a newfound passion for Bollywood films, Australian folklore, or German cuisine. Make it personal and at the end of the day, when potential employers think back on all those candidates they’ve interviewed, they’ll remember the recent college grad who got lost in Amsterdam or hitchhiked along the Pan-American Highway in Chile.

You may be riding on cloud nine upon returning from a study abroad experience, and rightly so. Enjoy the memories, the souvenirs, perhaps the last of that tan you worked on for the past 4 months. But when it’s time to build your resume, practice your interviewing skills, and get a first job you’ll be excited about, be sure to draw on that study abroad experience to give yourself the extra advantage among your peers.

Contributed by our guest blogger:
dustyFoxDusty Fox is a full-time freelance writer who contributes to Ivy Trainers and the Language Trainers network. Visit the Ivy Trainers website to learn more about the nationwide tutoring services they offer.