4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Study Abroad Experience

By following these four steps, you will enhance your study abroad experience and make you more appealing to future employers!

Employability – What are you doing now to help you for your future career? Are you going to end up on the Wall of Fame?

We all know that it is getting more and more important for university students to get as much work experience as possible. This is particularly important for international students to show that they made the best use of their study abroad by going beyond the normal call of the ‘student’ duty. Future employers, not to mention your parents, are going to want to see that you integrated within the local community and culture. Whilst it can be incredibly challenging gaining experience should language be an issue, it is not impossible. You just need to keep trying; investigate all of the various avenues that may be on hand. To help get you started, here is a list of things that you can check into both on and off campus.

  1. Volunteering

This is an easy ‘win win’ where you meet locals and can put something down of value on your resume / CV. The first step is to see what kind of volunteering opportunities exist on campus, either through your Students’ Union or specific community engagement office.

  1. Join a University club or association

Another easy activity to do that will result in nothing but a positive impact on your resume. As there are so many to choose from, it may be worth choosing one for social reasons and another for academic purposes. Who knows but the more the merrier!

  1. Talk to other international students or find your local expat communities

This can help you identify places where you can find tastes from home, or where you can find places of worship. In any case, it is always good to know where you can turn to when you need something familiar. Being foreign can sometimes be really tricky so it is important to know how to keep yourself positive. Even after almost 2 decades of living in the UK, I still turn to microwave popcorn with extra butter or a glass of Californian wine when I need a taste of home.

  1. Online training

There is an incredible amount of online training available for free or at a discounted rate. Along with the resources you have available to you as university students, Groupon and Woucher websites, amongst others, also offer great deals. I know students have found Lynda and LinkedIn to be other places to gain additional qualifications. All of this will not only give you additional experience, it can greatly help you identify more about what you want to do, or don’t want to do, for the future. Both are equally important to know so get out there and start trying things.

All of the above will help you gain experience whilst building up your portfolio. Remember that you will need to show a future employer evidence of your academic and extracurricular pursuits. It is never too early to start compiling examples of your experience. Have a look and find a really good piece of academic work that you were proud of, or do a screen print of a digital project that you have worked on. Start collecting testimonials or letters of reference, from both past and current employers and colleagues and your portfolio will be in a good state.

Vianna Renaud

ISV Magazine Contributor 

Placement Development Advisor and Postgraduate Researcher, Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP), Faculty of Media and Communication

Bournemouth University

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