The job market today is a challenging place. Students study abroad, seek internships, log hours of campus involvement, and pursue research opportunities in an effort to secure that competitive job in their chosen field. Calder Classics provides students with a head start, offering team-building exercizes that improve their Latin or ancient Greek and hands-on experiences with a foreign culture. But how do such study abroad experiences contribute to finding a job in the 21st century global marketplace? Do they actually help?
To determine this, perhaps the first question to ask is what employers are looking for in potential employees. A recent study by Peter D. Hart Research Associates asked executives from 305 American companies with at least 25 employees how colleges could better prepare students to succeed in today’s global economy. 76% of these employers wanted colleges to “place more emphasis” on teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group settings. 73% also wanted colleges “to place more emphasis” on the ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings through internships or other hands-on experiences. 72% wanted more emphasis on global issues and developments and their implications for the future.
So how do students who study abroad measure up?
Another recent study done by Michigan State University (MSU) examined what behaviors, skills, and competencies gained from study abroad are valued in the workplace. In focus groups of hiring managers from 450 employers, MSU first asked employers to create a list of possible traits and skills gained from study abroad. They then asked employers to compare the abilities of their recent hires with international study or internship experience to those without.
According to more than 50 percent of employers surveyed, internationally experienced hires demonstrated higher abilities in the very skills employers in the 2006 study above wanted colleges to place more emphasis on:
· Interacting with people who hold different interests, values, or perspectives
· Understanding cultural differences in the workplace
· Adapting to situations of change
Employers are looking for students with the skills to navigate our increasingly multicultural and global marketplaces. Students’ experiences studying abroad can provide them with the “outside the classroom” proficiencies desired by employers in today’s marketplace and help set them apart from other applicants.
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