Insight by Olivia Balabanis, originally published on November 16th, 2021.
According to the International Institute of Education, 16% of undergraduate students in the United States study abroad at some point during their college career. At the University of New Hampshire, 21% of undergraduate students studied abroad during AY 2019–2020. Both these percentages are increasing each year (with the exception of Covid restricting international travel).
In 2020, I was sent home early from my semester abroad with 579 other UNH students. Upon returning to UNH the following semester, I took a course called “Return from Abroad” where we discussed how to take the real-life skills we learned abroad and use them in job interviews, classes, and the workplace. This course inspired me to research if students who study abroad have a higher rate of job placement.
Studying abroad allows students to gain skills such as global awareness and foreign language skills. The experience of living outside of one’s home country also exposes students to international job opportunities. Students also develop a global network of contacts and learn critical problem-solving skills. Nearly 1 out of every 4 employers say they are more likely to hire a recent graduate that has studied abroad as opposed to one who has not, and a third of employers at least consider studying abroad as a favorable aspect on a resume. Lastly, 87% of students who study abroad claim they have talked about their experience during a job interview and that it helped them stand out.
It is clear that studying abroad is beneficial for a graduating student’s employability. While not every student has the time or resources to study abroad, if one does it is crucial to take advantage of the opportunity in order to strengthen skills that many employers look for in the workplace. Alternatives to a college study abroad experience include researching, volunteering, traveling, living, or working in a different country.
Olivia is a senior from Foxboro, Massachusetts with a dual major in International Business and Spanish. This is her second semester in the Fund, and she is eager to improve her writing and professional networking skills. Olivia is also the co-president of UNH’s chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action along with being treasurer of Model United Nations, and in the Paul Scholar and Honors programs at UNH. She is looking forward to getting to know everyone even better in the Fund as the semester progresses.