This is a guest blog post by Nathan Nault of The Study Abroad Blog
I'm sure everyone has heard that studying abroad is a great resume booster, and there's no question it's truer now than ever before. Studying abroad will make you more independent and self-sufficient; you will become a global citizen who thinks in a more culturally relative manner; your problem solving skills will exponentially increase from having to deal with issues 6,000 miles from the comfort of home. Yes, employers will be able to identify you apart from the rest the moment they read "studied abroad" on your resume (assuming you passed your classes). In fact, these qualities and skills are essential when marketing yourself in today's globalizing world.
What most people don't realize, however, is that to take full advantage of your study abroad experience (often as it relates to a career), you need to think beyond your resume. here are a few examples.
Lingtlanguage.com, formed by MIT students Justin Cannon, Chris Varenhorst, and Scot Frank back in 2008, produces software for teaching foreign languages. The three former students realized that, although learning to write a foreign language in a classroom of 40 students isn't all too hard, learning correct pronunciation is. So they developed a product called Lingt Editor, an application that lets teachers create custom assignments with audio, images, text, and video.
How does studying abroad play into all of this? They came up with the idea while they were preparing for and participating in trips abroad as part of the MIT-China program.
Crawl Beijing is newly created pub crawl here in Beijing, started by two personal friends who have been studying/working abroad in China on and off for the past 2 years. The idea is simple. The number of people trying to enjoy the party scene is increasing as more and more students are coming to China to study abroad, and Beijing's younger population is becoming more involved in Beijing's night life. The problem? There are currently very few bar crawls in Beijing. The solution? Create a bar crawl that increases interaction between the foreign and Chinese student population, and introduce them to the Beijing nightlife. It's still in it's infancy, but who knows where it will go.
Weekend Student Adventures (WSA) is a travel site started by Andy Steves that specializes in weekend tours designed especially for study abroad students. Tours are meant to immerse students into the local culture without having to worry about group size, accommodations, travel arrangements, food, and of course cost. It's a pretty genius idea if you ask me - what study abroad student isn't looking to travel on the weekends? Here's a little background on how studying abroad made it all happen:
"The WSA concept has been in continual development for the last two years since Andy returned from his semester abroad in the Spring of 2008 in Rome, italy. After traveling 13 of his 17 weekends abroad, and organizing a number of trips for himself and friends, Andy started AndySteves.com, a free resource for the college student abroad. He designed over 20 recommended weekend itineraries to the top locations across Europe, and developed more with the help of students from across the United States."
Maybe you'll see a solution to simple problem that no one else has addressed. Maybe you'll find a way to connect a personal interest to studying abroad, and in turn find a way to make it into a career. Maybe an opportunity will find you, or maybe you'll go the "traditional" route, using study abroad as an awesome resume booster - and there's nothing wrong with that. The point is that in just about every aspect of career preparation and job searching, studying abroad opens up doors all over the world.
You're going to be traveling to foreign countries, experiencing so many different cultures, and sharing ideas with people from every walk of life. Your mindset will probably change over the course of your time abroad, and that's fine. Be open to the possibilities it may bring.