This is week three of a three-week series about study abroad and using that experience to boost your career. It will show you how to:
3- how to use study abroad to boost your career once you’ve returned.
To tie this all together, grab your checklist for maximizing study abroad before, during, and after, at the bottom of this post. This series will be beneficial for anyone going abroad, though, not just those going to study!
Even if you’ve been back from your time abroad for quite a while now, you can still utilize that experience to your benefit. Here’s ways to continue utilizing that time when you get back, even if it’s months or years later.
Brush up on your language
This is the easiest and most obvious way to maintain and skill you learned abroad. But it’s so important! Many language enthusiasts agree the ideal way to learn a language (and perhaps the only way to master a language) is to live in the language’s native country. So, if you’ve already done that, you’ve got a huge advantage. Don’t let that slip away! Maintaining languages can be time-consuming. This is especially the case if you’re going from speaking it all the time (host family, foreign classes), to only once a week in a class. Shannon at Eurolinguiste.com writes helpful posts about language learning, but I highly recommend this one for 5-minute language learning tasks. Learning another language is one of the best ways to use study abroad to boost your career, learn more, and become a global citizen of the world.
Network with alumni from your program
If you studied abroad with a program hosted by your home university, this couldn’t be easier. There is likely some sort of meet up or group of alumni who did your exact program. If there’s not, make one! People are always happy to talk about their abroad experience.
If you studied abroad in a separate program from your university, this isn’t as easy. I studied abroad with an independent program and am so glad I did! Then, leaving college I had both a network from my university and my study abroad program. Networking with alumni might not be as simple with an independent organization. Here are some ways to make it happen nonetheless:
- use LinkedIn. Type in the name of the program you studied with and see who else did that’s near you or that’s interested in your career field.
- Contact your program’s admissions team and ask if there are alumni near you who’d be willing to meet for coffee.
- Start a Meetup for alumni, post it on Facebook, LinkedIn, and ask your program to advertise it as well.
Represent your study abroad program
Volunteer with your school and/or program to represent them and help market for free. This will help you network with others and will help you build relationships with those who work for the program. You can offer to represent your program in a number of ways depending on how they market. Among them are:
- Represent the program at study abroad fairs at colleges in your local area
- Act as a point of contact for prospective students interested in attending
- Help maintain the program’s blog or social media
- Write your personal story/ testimonial to the program for their website
All of these are great ways to get your name out there, and attached with it is your study abroad story and experience. Additionally, you’ll foster relationships with those in charge of the program, who have access to an entire network of alumni.
Design an Independent Study
If you’re still in college, I highly encourage you to create a self-designed independent study that is an extension of a class you took in abroad. This can help you personally and help boost your career in a whole bunch of ways:
- Linking your time abroad with your studies shows that you take cultural exchange seriously. To address many of the global issues our generation will face/ is facing, global understanding is essential. This is the future, people! Be on that front line.
- Maintain your relationship with a professor from your time abroad. You don’t have to communicate with him/ her for your independent study, but you certainly can! They could have great suggestions about a potential direction for your independent study and will probably be very interested in your results.
- Foster a close relationship with a professor at your host university who will oversee your study. You get to choose a professor to oversee (so long as they agree), so choose one that is related to your field of study and your career! Those close relationships will carry you for years after college.
- Learn about something you care about! This is the best part of doing an independent study. It’s completely shaped around what you’re interested in and what you want to learn the most about. Take advantage of that.
- Gain experience demonstrating you show initiative. This looks good on job applications, and rightfully so! This is an excellent skill that it can be hard for college students to exercise.
Organize a reunion with other exchange students
Really make sure that you don’t lose touch with the amazing friends you made abroad. Though this won’t extend your network, this is your existing network. It’s just as important to maintain those relationships as it is to make new ones. Plus, you’ll miss each other! Everyone gets so caught up in their lives when returning from abroad. You’ll be everyone’s favorite person if you organize a reunion for your crew of exchangers. You can host it in your home country, you can host it literally at your home, or you can organize a trip back to your home country! The important thing is that you stay close to these people. They are the soon to be key players in your generation’s workforce!
Boost your career by boosting other’s careers
In line with the tip above, don’t forget to take care of your fellow exchangers! A way of doing this volunteering to represent your program like we talked about above. But, don’t forget to serve as a valuable resource for those who went abroad, too. Make sure that you have the abroad program you went with on LinkedIn and Facebook so that you’re findable. If your company is hiring, post the position on your abroad Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or send it to your abroad program for them to advertise. Helping others in any way you can is a very important part of networking. Don’t neglect it!
These are only a couple of ways you can use your study abroad to boost your career, even if you’ve been back for a while. That experience is something you will always have, that no one can take away from you. But it doesn’t only have to be a memory. It can and should be incorporated into your daily personal and professional life! It takes a bit of effort to maintain it, but it’s already established and it’s powerful.
For your free checklist on using study abroad to boost your career (before, during, and after your time), sign up below! You’ll find it in my Travel Resource Library, along with other helpful resources.