News & Press: Articles

Making the Connections: Global Education and Career Mobility

Friday, October 18, 2019  
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By: Christopher LeGrant - Diversity Abroad


For much of the 20th Century, it was generally accepted that one simply went to college to get a leg up, but a diploma is no longer the sole solution to securing a successful career. In an increasingly global and digital economy, it’s important to educate college students on all the advantages their education can afford them.


It’s common knowledge that global education opportunities represent a transformational experience for young people everywhere. However, the connections between career mobility and experiences abroad are only now beginning to be discussed and appreciated. Young professionals coming out of undergraduate programs face a tough job market, with the unemployment rate for students who graduated from a four- year institution in 2015 at 7.2%, and an underemployment rate of 14.9% (Economic Policy Institute, The Class of 2015, May 2015).


Therefore, understanding the trends within the current job market is the first step in successfully advising students on how to leverage their global experiences. Millennials are creating career advancement options that don’t involve monotonous tasks, loyalty medals or vertical movement. Indeed, this horizontal movement is not just a simple transfer from one department to another. It is identifying underlying growth and matching it with the individual’s strengths. If a horizontal move is not available within their current company, some young people may simply decide to shift to a different field that’s more in line with their passions, ethics and lifestyle.   


Because millennials are choosing companies that value corporate social responsibility, ethical practices and environmental issues, companies have been adapting their culture in an attempt to recruit top talent. The change is notable in hiring practices with approximately 75% of employers citing study abroad as important when evaluating the resume of a job candidate for an entry-level position and 80% of human resources executives stating that study abroad is important when considering a candidate for an overseas job placement (Global HR News and The Scholar Ship. HR executives survey. April 2007).


It is therefore important that career service departments make the necessary links and begin advising young college students to participate in global education experiences to enhance not only their resume but to foster their leadership, communication, and problem solving skills. Likewise, it is important for study abroad advisors to be aware of the connection between global education and career mobility and advise students to be conscious of these links when deciding on what type of abroad program to participate in.     


It is also consequential for advisors to be aware that different types of abroad experiences are translatable in different ways. In generations past, traditional study abroad was the only option for most people but students now have many choices between study, volunteer, teach and intern abroad opportunities. What works for one student may not be as beneficial to another and a single student may benefit from different types of programs throughout the course of their education. It will be up to the advisors to be aware of the nuances of each type of program and suggest the correct course for success.


Shared events and pooling resources on outreach efforts are simple ways that study abroad and career advisors can begin to collaborate in more meaningful ways.  However, making sure these crucial programs are fully accessible and inclusive to all students is vital. All too often, diversity outreach efforts have been an additional campaign, added to the workload of increasingly busy study abroad and career service professionals. Only when diversity and inclusion efforts are baked into the fabric of all that we do on campus will we see start to see truly representative diversity in our global education programs and consequently, in the 21st century workforce.