Connecting the Dots: How Study Abroad Impacts Employability

NAFSA: Association of International Educators Blog

By Marty Tillman

An American expat running a study abroad program in the Gulf region recently commented on LinkedIn that when students were asked: “What were your expectations before the trip?,” their responses generally were: “I thought it was going to be a vacation,” or “I thought there was going to be more down time.” The perception that study abroad falls solely within the tourism or leisure travel sector is present in some experiences. And all too often, students’ cognizance of the relationship between study abroad and employability takes place well after the experience, if at all.

Can we expect students to connect the dots? I don’t fault students for making the decision to study (or work, serve, or intern) abroad without giving extensive consideration as to how their experience will strengthen their employability post-graduation. That’s pretty abstract and removed from the immediate concerns of a sophomore or junior (although…

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