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Study Abroad and Careers: Acquiring “Global Mobility”

CEA has been looking into a much-reported connection between study abroad and the future careers of participants. We will be reporting on our findings in a series of blogs over the next month.

There is no disputing the fact that, for the foreseeable future, students will graduate into a world where globalization will greatly influence the nature of the workforce they enter regardless of whether they work in the U.S. or abroad. The current global economic crisis is likewise reshaping workplace realities in all sectors. Students must be prepared to cope with fast-changing local and global economies and the shifting expectations of employers.

This issue first came to my attention in 2000 when I received a report by several faculty at Texas A&M who had surveyed a wide range of employers in Texas - Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, state agencies, school districts, etc. Among the findings that stood out to me was the consensus – especially among private sector employers – that applicants for jobs at their companies who could demonstrate their “global mobility” were preferred over others. The report noted that too few Texas graduates had acquired this sense of their own mobility.

Many students who study abroad take this dimension of their experience more or less for granted. But the ease – indeed, the enthusiasm - with which one travels internationally, is actually an experience-based skill and outlook. Study abroad returnees should find ways to include this aspect of themselves in the next resumes they send out. It can make a difference!

Dr. John D. Heyl is the Vice President of Global Education at CEA.
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