By Abigail Bentz
For Unwind magazine
The University of Maryland helped 1,879 students study abroad last year, but will traveling out of the country appeal to future employers?
This university offers students the opportunity to study with a professor, temporarily study at another school or become an exchange student placed in a host family. To cater to a diverse group of students, every opportunity is offered as a year- or semester-long program or as alternatives to winter and spring break.
Entering a new culture with a possible language barrier can be intimidating and may steer students away, but students at this university are finding the long-term benefits to be applicable to future job opportunities.
Junior kinesiology major Jenna Caraher traveled to New Zealand for a three-week long winter course.
“I believe it shows that I am willing to jump into situations that I am not used to and make the most out of the situation I get put in,” Caraher said. “If I was ever put in an unfamiliar situation during a future job, I feel confident that I would handle myself appropriately.”
However, study abroad programs do ask students to sacrifice time that could be spent making money at a job or gaining experience at an internship, which are also desirable on resumes.
Kinesiology professor Adam Beissel coordinates two annual short-term study abroad programs entitled “Sport, Commerce and Culture in the Global Marketplace.” This summer, he is debuting his second program, which will take students to London and Dublin to study sports.
“One concern is that, at least for the summer program, students may have to weigh-up taking a summer internship or work experience or opting to enroll in a study abroad,” Beissel said. “Another criticism of our programs is, perhaps, that they tend to be expensive and privilege those students with the economic and social capital to participate in them.”
Similar to a job or internship, studying abroad can help build connections. Each course brings students of a similar major together, as well as giving them a pathway to connect with students outside of their major.
“Many of the people who came with me are studying the same subject, but we have never had the opportunity to cross paths,” Caraher said. “Since studying abroad, the connections I have made have provided me with many opportunities, such as two different internships I have applied to via these connections.”
Not every student is using their experience abroad as a critical part of their resume. Junior criminal justice major Jenna Portogallo traveled short-term during winter and summer breaks.
“I personally did not put my abroad experiences on my resume because out of all my information and experience, I felt that it wasn’t as vital,” Portogallo said. “I do, however, make sure to bring it up in interviews when necessary, and I feel bringing up two abroad experiences gives me the upper hand.”
It may depend on the potential job or employer. However, students and advisors are finding that studying abroad has proven to be very applicable to work environments, making studying abroad a worthwhile experience to help achieve their goals in the working world.