Why An Education Abroad Can Benefit A Future Career
The rise of international business is just one of the reasons why studying abroad can open up new opportunities for the future. Whether it’s acquiring second language skills, building a global network, or the improved empathy and critical thinking capacities, students that undergo at least part of their education abroad have a measurable edge over their domestic peers.
In the past, students might have dreamed of having a semester away to study history or poetry in the romantic medieval castle towns of Europe. Today, students are fanning out across Asia and the Middle East, doubling down on STEM subjects, and building the connections and knowledge that could skyrocket their future careers.
And while splitting your higher education between universities on opposite sides of the world or pursing higher level degrees at an international institute can be of significant benefit, the positive effects of overseas education aren’t limited to graduates. Even for young children, spending a portion of their elementary or secondary years in another country can add valuable skills and experience.
Foreign language skills are one of the most obvious value-adds. Depending on where you go and how deeply you immerse yourself, these skills could range from social niceties to business-level fluency. While few students will complete their studies in the foreign language itself, day-to-day life exposure will grow language comprehension and improve the accent and vocabulary. This flows into another benefit—cultural fluency.
While you may not achieve native-level proficiency in a foreign language, having a first-hand understanding of the lifestyle, social expectations and niceties, and communication norms offers many benefits. You may find yourself doing business more successfully with people of a country you have firsthand understanding of because you are able to interpret the many unconscious social signals we are conditioned to by our home culture. Your understanding of what people want, need, and care about in another country could translate into successful business ventures.
The benefits go beyond regions or countries that you actually visit. Children and adults exposed to a more diverse population and different ways of thinking and living are often changed by the experience themselves. They develop greater empathy and critical thinking skills, and tend to be good problem solvers and socially adept adults who can consider points of view other than their own.
Finally, completing an education abroad can help you build a valuable international network of friends and potential colleagues. International schools overseas are particularly good places to connect with other world-travelers who are honing their leadership skills. A Hong Kong school experience could lead to a future of success not just in Hong Kong, or even in East Asia, but across the globe, as friends and classmates return to their respective home countries or fan out into new areas.
Your future career prospects will benefit from concrete skills, soft skills, and the network effect of an education abroad. You may or may not choose to focus on second language learning, but the greater understanding and improved critical thinking skills you’ll develop, as well as the wide social and professional network you’ll be exposed to, can help your career skyrocket.