Person with a black globe under her arm

Studying abroad not only enables you to enhance your learning by being able to study in another country for a year, but it also has far-reaching benefits of enhancing your long-term global career prospects. Before examining ‘How’ studying abroad can improve your global career prospects, we first look at a few statistics examining the impact of studying abroad on global career development:

A study in 2008 conducted by the Institute for the International Education examined the impact of study abroad on US college students’ global career paths, finding that:

  • 1/3 of students surveyed agreed that studying abroad contributed to opening their minds to a “global career” outside of the US.
  • 65% of students surveyed agreed that studying abroad enhanced their ability to speak a foreign language.
  • 59% of academic alumni who were also surveyed reported that their studies abroad ‘significantly influence’ their career development/advancement. 

Okay, so now we've seen the statistics, we'll look at the four major ways studying abroad can shape your global career.

1. Improves your understanding of different cultures

The first illustration of studying abroad shaping a student’s global career is by improving their multicultural skills which can be subsequently applied within the workplace. For example, let’s say you’re an English student who has decided to embark on the challenge of studying abroad in Shanghai. On arrival, you may have already chosen to reside in student dormitories for your semesters. Before classes begin, your constant day-to-day interaction with various international students will subconsciously affect your understanding of different cultures. Soon enough you will become aware of how individuals’ different cultures interact. This not only will improve your social skills among international students when you return to your home university, but socialising and being a part of the international student’s community can also have far reaching effects for your future employment prospects.

2. Increases your understanding of international career options

A second major benefit of studying abroad on career development is by increasing your ability to discover international career options post-graduation. Having a degree with an additional year of studying in a different country enables students to develop an awareness of states and organisations, and how the two connect and shape the world we live in, which is viewed as increasingly valuable within the global job market. For example, a variety of graduates are desirable for a wide range of career areas. Typical employers include: 

  • NGOs – such as Oxfam, Greenpeace and the WWF
  • IGOs, such as the World Bank and the UN
  • As well as within international businesses or local/national governments

3. Improves your foreign language subskills

An additional major benefit of studying abroad on career development is by improving your language skills and subskills. A study conducted by Cambridge University in 2018 that assessed language learning and studying abroad found that ‘the benefits of Study abroad go beyond language learning and internationalization of students’ but the benefits go much further post-graduation, when the students new-found language abilities enhance the individual’s job prospects. It has also been found that there is an innate correlation between studying abroad and enhanced language subskills (such as reading, writing, listening and speaking). For example, the study illustrated that within the realms of listening comprehension it was found that ‘students felt more confident about their listening skills following a study abroad programme’. Furthermore, the paper also highlighted that ‘Study abroad also has a positive impact on writing skills as well as reading’ when compared to home taught institutions. 

4. Increases your confidence

A final benefit of studying abroad on career development is by increasing your confidence in a broad range of areas. A report carried out by the Leuphana University Luneburg in Germany found that compared with home students, students who underwent an exchange year during their undergraduate degree were found to be ‘more independent, resilient and confident’. Such qualities not only improve the student’s performance during their years of study, but it was also found that such attributes have a positive correlation with the ability to ‘deal with stress at work, increase the individual’s motivation in reaching goals as well as increase their overall job satisfaction’. 

Additionally, the Times Higher Education’ also found that the more mobile a student becomes, the higher levels of self-efficacy are apparent, thus greater the ‘self-belief’ a student has, the more likely the student during their career will apply for promotions, hit targets, travel internationally and so on.

Therefore, overall studying abroad not only affects your character during university life but also more broadly when applying for opportunities abroad during your working life. 

I hope you enjoyed this article and understand that studying abroad has far-reaching advantages which may only be apparent in years to come. If you have any questions or wish to find out more reasons why studying abroad can shape your global career, please drop a comment and we will get back to you.


Hello I am Bea and I am a Law Graduate 2020. In my spare time I love to write, journal and develop my blog. Also my favourite hobbies are swimming, travelling and exploring new environments. Furthermore, over the course of my University degree I have been able to studying in a variety of Asian Universities (Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan) which is the reason why I wish to share my insight with anybody considering taking a gap year, year abroad or to further their abroad.