Whether you realize it or not, your study abroad experience can help you clarify what you’re passionate about and help
you gain career insight.
Just ask Nathan Minnehan, an IES Abroad Buenos Aires 2010-2011 alumni, who started making leather-bound journals while living and learning in Argentina.
“The original WalknTalk journals were made in Buenos Aires while I was studying abroad, and the very first ones were sold at the San Telmo street fair,” he said.
Two years later, Minnehan now owns and operates WalknTalk, his Chicago-based company, selling handmade journals and accessories in 20 countries. His philosophy? Get lost to find yourself.
While saying you studied abroad is impressive, saying you had an international internship or service learning placement is even more enticing to potential employers and graduate schools.
Set yourself apart from other applicants with real stories of working in a hands-on environment, improving your communication skills in a global setting, learning first-hand from international professionals, and making a difference in communities around the world.
For IES Abroad Tokyo ’01 alumna Christina McLean, studying abroad gave her the experience she needed to begin herglobal career.
“While eagerly immersing myself in Japanese culture, I worked on the corporate marketing team of a U.S. Fortune 500 company in the heart of Tokyo,” McLean says. “At 21 years old, I was executing branding strategies for a product line with sales exceeding $2 million. I led market research with my team, analyzed consumer behavior, and forecasted regional product consumption – all while building new relationships, engaging in new cultural experiences, and creating memories that would last a lifetime.”
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, close to 12 million (60%) American college students borrow money annually to help cover their education costs. So it’s not rocket science that you need to figure out how to pay back your loans – and fast. When IES Abroad surveyed its recently graduated alumni in 2012, 89% of respondents found their first job within six months of graduation, and 95% secured a job within one year after graduation, as compared to only 49% of respondents in a recent survey of the general college population who had found work within a year offinishing college.*
Along with finding a job quicker, living and learning abroad can actually help you make more money. Compared with the general population of recent U.S. college graduates, recently graduated IES Abroad alumni earned, on average, $7,000 more in their starting salaries in their first jobs. Talk about a return on your investment!
Because you’ve studied abroad, you’ve made the decision to step outside the world as you know it and dive into a new culture, meet new people, and live like a local. In fact, taking the study abroad leap almost guarantees you’ll return home a more mature, confident, and tolerant individual – and ready to take on those job interviews.
“You’re able to grow outside of previous structures that often feel confining, whether they be your language, your town, your university, your friend group or whatever else you’re strapped to,” Minnehan says. “Studying abroad allowed me to open up and truly dream big. It gave me the perspective I needed to really get outside of myself and create a solid foundation for my brand and for my life.”
One thing is for sure: when you return from abroad, your life will never be the same –and that’s a good thing.
For international educators, our goal is to train you to be more respectful of other cultures, political and economic systems, and to increase your willingness to take a stand for the world’s welfare.
“Studying abroad opened the door for me to become engaged in the global marketplace at an early age and truly understand how intertwined our world is,” McLean says. “As my career progressed over the years, I continued to build on my international experience while exploring ways to make a greater social impact. My experience abroad has made me a more effective professional and engaged citizen to this day.”