Global connection around the world is higher than ever before. Highly successful global social media platforms, advanced e-commerce networks, and wide-spread high-quality streaming across oceans are now considered daily occurrences.
As various industries seek to capitalise on this unprecedented connectivity, having experience in an international context will become increasingly important for job seekers aiming to be competitive candidates for these international positions.
In addition to being a highly rewarding personal experience, working abroad benefits candidates on a professional level.
The following are some of the values of international work experience:
Demonstrates Cultural Awareness
Living and working abroad for a period of time opens up a candidate’s perspective to realities other than their own, from exposure to new languages and foods to (sometimes significantly) differing professional, social, and cultural practices.
Those working in a specifically international office experience not only the various customs of their host country, but also those of their co-workers from additional places around the world. Learning to observe, understand, and accept these differences is a personally rewarding experience, and it is also highly advantageous for companies who pursue international connections. These employers seek out employees with the cultural sensitivity to be able to create relationships with potential partners and clients, putting applicants with international experience at the top of the list.
Initiative and Adaptability
Finding an opportunity to live or work abroad is no easy task. It includes making connections to potential work or study opportunities, convincing a programme or employer to trust an applicant’s skills from afar, and finding housing in an unfamiliar area.
From the moment a traveller steps foot on the plane they are forced to confront and overcome the challenges of living internationally on their own. Excruciatingly lengthy visa paperwork, licenses, tax codes, phone systems, and learning how to pay bills are just a few of the myriad of seemingly benign tasks that can become significant challenges abroad.
Even those who are equipped with some level of language skills in their new host country before arrival struggle with the organisational processes different from their home country.
In order to be successful living abroad, one must learn to adapt to these circumstances while still managing to perform well at their job, internship or global programme.
The choice to delve into an abroad experience demonstrates to an employer an incredible willingness to take initiative and confront head-on challenges, which could reap great rewards in a working environment. It also shows adaptability and flexibility with new, unknown surroundings, both of which are ideal traits in an international office.
Establishes Hard and Soft Skills
In addition to personal growth, it’s a proven fact that an abroad experience improves professional competency across the board — both in hard and soft skills.
A survey titled, “Research and analysis on the benefits of international opportunities” conducted by the British Council on the effectiveness of international programmes found that “international experiences can impact people’s ability to innovate in the workplace, which is further supported by evidence that international experiences improve skills that are often needed for innovation, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, communication and openness to new ideas and cultures.”
Spending a period of time in a different country has the added benefit of providing ample opportunity for language learning. Language skills are in high demand in a global job market. One of the best methods for developing fluency in a given language is via a full-immersion experience, and candidates who take advantage of their time abroad to improve their language skills are more likely to be seen as an invaluable asset to international organisations.
Sets Candidates Apart
Abroad experience demonstrates ambition, resourcefulness, versatility, and a willingness to take risks, all of which are attractive employee traits.
In fact, the British Council’s research and analysis study found that 68% of job seekers reported that their international experience helped them get hired. From international internship to long-term abroad position, hiring managers appreciate these acquired skills (although it’s important to recognize how to effectively communicate this on your CV and throughout your interview process).
Placing oneself within an international environment also opens up a large international community. Managers, co-workers, counselors, and even international social clubs can all lend themselves to further abroad opportunities.
Moving abroad certainly presents significant logistical, mental, and emotional difficulties. However, the value of international work experience far outweighs its cost. Programmes such as the ones offered at EDHEC are designed to jump start a candidate’s global career, which will ultimately lead to more competitive, culturally aware, skilled, and competitive candidates brought to the top of the selection process for a long-term, successful international career.