Encouraging young professionals to pursue professional experiences abroad simply makes sense. Young people are hungry for experience abroad, eager to create international connections, and learn about their field in a foreign cultural context. Employers benefit from these curious Millennials, as hiring bold, open-minded professionals will strengthen their work forces. As company leaders look abroad, they want their rising employees to be able to adapt quickly and think outside of the box—and—outside national boundaries.
Spending time immersed in another culture either through a professional internship, study abroad, or international travel can make Millennials and Generation Z more employable for a number of reasons. For one, a young person who spends an extended period of time outside their culture is forced to adapt to new circumstances. They begin to exercise tolerance and open-mindedness more than ever, having to learn how a different culture operates. Whether completing work tasks or navigating a foreign city, young people become better equipped to problem solve, adapt, and negotiate with people outside their culture. This boosted intercultural competency is increasingly crucial as workplaces become more diverse and globalism spreads. In general, going abroad also makes a person more empathetic to anyone that lives a different reality than their own. Once you’ve been the outsider, you are more likely to extend a hospitable welcome to someone new.
International experiences that require foreign language skills can have a major effect on the careers of young professionals. Good business relies on good communication. As national businesses start to globalize, it’s important to hire bilingual teams that can work with international clients and business partners. Bilingual employees are necessary to ensure effective communication and better business practices. Aside from the professional benefits, it’s also worth mentioning the scientific benefits of learning a second language. Studies have proven that learning a second language can have positive effects on the brain like delaying the effects of Alzheimer’s. Being bilingual is also known to help with multitasking and improving attention span—qualities all managers are looking for in a new member of their team.
Our career fields don’t exist in a bubble—most professions exist around the world. While abroad, interns are able to identify differences and similarities of their field in another cultural context. They’re able to have conversations about their profession on a global scale while establishing connections with international colleagues. These conversations are a great way to add complexity and nuance to their understanding of their sector, as a young person prepares to enter the job market. This knowledge and complex understanding is another unique quality that makes international millennials and Generation Z more employable. An increased global awareness of their field will also keep them interested in thinking about their sector from an international point of view in the future.
Naturally, young people are forced to be more self-sufficient and independent while abroad. Even in structured exchange programs, Millennials and Generation Z will have to learn how to get around a new city, buy groceries and build other life skills. They are forced to engage in a different cultural context and speak another language. These experiences cause students to come up with creative solutions to solve problems. Applying knowledge of home to this new cultural context, they must think outside the box and test different options to get their desired outcome. This ability to solve problems, adapt, adjust and think for themselves gives traveling Millennials and Generation Z the upper hand in their career and in life.