Integrating Studying Abroad with Your Career Development Journey
This blog post was written by Peer Career Ambassador Julian Parra ’20.
For many of you reading right now, you may consider studying abroad during your time at Babson. You may meet some of your lifelong friends spending a week, a semester, or even a whole year in a different place. While abroad, however, it can be easy to let your career development goals slide while you try to balance learning about different cultures, exploring the new cities, and making your own memories. We encourage you to maintain a healthy balance and understand that studying abroad grants you transferrable skills applicable to the workforce, regardless of the industry you decide to go into.
First, studying abroad makes you more flexible. It’s crucial to be flexible to different environments and in times of challenge. Being in a different place can help you be okay in ambiguous situations. For instance, on BRIC, for our Russia business class, we had one week where we averaged 2 to 3 business meetings in different parts of St. Petersburg with leading entrepreneurs in Russia, where we learned more about the overall business environment. However, a few days before the class started, I found out I had a three-hour Super Day video interview that Thursday. I needed to balance attending these meetings, exploring the city I was in, writing mandatory essays for class, and preparing for this interview. That said, many of my cohort members had to do video interviews at 3AM with companies in the United States in order to accommodate for the time zone difference. This demonstrates to employers your grit and dedication to the position since you are showing how hardworking you are even before you started working.
Second, studying abroad can make you a stronger team member. In the workforce, there will be many opportunities for you to work in teams with people who come from different cultural backgrounds. Immersing in a different culture will allow you to develop cross-cultural awareness and be more conscious of other people’s perspectives. Through the many group projects, I was a part of during my study abroad program, I learned and understood more about the backgrounds of my team members, and I had the opportunity to share mine with them.
Finally, studying abroad can help you further develop your network and encourage you to learn new languages. Applying your language skills to the real world will help you learn that language better than being taught in a classroom. If you continuously practice, especially with locals from that country, you will not forget it as easily. When a few of my cohort members and I went to do laundry in Saint Petersburg, Russia, for instance, we were not able to communicate well with the manager of the laundromat. Long story short, we had accidentally paid for a wash, dry, and fold, which was about 200 rubles more than simple wash and dry, and so we would be picking up our clothes a few days later than was necessary. Eventually, I apologized again and thanked them for their help. I share this story because we learned more about the Russian communication style in this scenario and intentionally practiced our Russian since we learned the key phrases needed to facilitate the process for next time. Moreover, developing relationships abroad will grant you more career-related opportunities, like the potential to relocate to a new city if that is something you are interested in. You may find your next business partner or find your next entrepreneurial venture being in an environment that pushes your creative boundaries. You can even reach out to Babson alumni through LinkedIn or through a Global Alumni Club. What better way to have an authentic study abroad experience than someone who has shared similar experiences as you at Babson?
All this said, studying abroad could be the highlight of your four or so years at Babson. However, the skills you develop during your time away can help you in your future career for many more years to come.