Professional Development & Off-Campus Study

Your time off-campus will be a life-changing event and will contribute to an incredible amount of personal development. It will also contribute to your professional development in more ways than you can imagine.

This guide (.pdf) will provide you with a framework to understand the impact and added value of off-campus studies to your career development.

Even while you are abroad, you can take an active role in your professional development. By networking, you can build career connections, practice and improve your communication skills, and gain a better understanding of the global job market.

Just like making friends, networking practices are different across cultures. It is important to learn from those around you and to try to master the new cultural logic.

This blog gives examples of what Americans see as normal networking behavior, and how that differs with how other countries interpret it.

This article highlights three areas where cultural differences mandate a closer look at networking etiquette.

Highlighting Study Abroad in your Job Search

Do not assume that potential employers automatically see the value of your international experience – it must be demonstrated and clearly identifiable as full of transferable skills. Here are some tips and tricks:

  • Articulate the experience in terms of a direct benefit to the company/organization
  • Identify proficiencies beyond those associated with your specific host country and culture
  • Focus on transferable and general skills that are learned through or enhanced by your international experience
  • Use stories! Can you demonstrate cross-cultural competencies and interpersonal skills as developed by studying off-campus? Can you explain how these skills are used in problem solving?
  • Can you identify tangible activities or classes your participated in while abroad that are value-added in the eyes of an employer?
  • Did you volunteer, have an internship, or complete/start a research project?
  • Reflect on the “soft skills” and proficiencies you gained while off-campus, for example:
    • Foreign language proficiency
    • Flexibility and adaptability
    • Increased cultural awareness and sensitivity
    • Improved communication skills
    • Increased awareness of global issues
    • Problem solving in an unfamiliar environment
    • Increased self-awareness
    • Patience

Source: “Career Development” Global Education Office, Vanderbilt University