Q&A: How Has Study Abroad Impacted Your Career Goals?

We asked and you answered! In our last installment of Q&A, we asked:

How has study abroad impacted your career goals?

Students study abroad during a pivotal time in their lives. Many find that their time overseas had a big impact on their post-grad plans for myriad reasons. We wanted to ask students: how did your time abroad change your professional trajectory?


Here are their responses:

1. If I learned anything from studying abroad, I learned that there is a world outside of the U.S. And although that might sound like a “duh” statement, it is very much an important one. Often when I used think about the countries outside of the U.S. I thought about them in terms of a vacation or political/social issues. After studying abroad, I can see the countries in terms of the people, their lifestyles, their values, and these are things that I got from living​ in another country. For me, I truly felt like that I belonged in my study abroad country of Korea, when I was able to have a lazy day. On those lazy days, when I could just enjoy an ice cream bar while I sat on a bench and people watched, I truly felt connected to the world around me.

I went into Korea with a social work major, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. After studying abroad, I wanted to either work in nongovernmental organizations (NGO) or work in public policy. I want to work to bring more connections and dialogues among countries of different values and lifestyles. We can all learn so much from each other.

-Bao Yang, Seoul, South Korea, Spring 2013

2. Not only has studying abroad impacted my personal goals, but it has also opened many doors toward achieving my career goals.  When I first landed in Amman, Jordan it was about 3:00am, my bags were lost, I didn’t speak any Arabic, and I was extremely jet lagged.  In that moment I had no option but to improvise and adapt to the situation.  I knew his was the start of an amazing, unique, and thrilling experience.  Throughout the rest of my journey abroad, I learned intercultural communication skills and adaptability while enhancing my adventurous spirit.  Following my studies in Jordan, I realize I took away so much more than the teachings from the classes I took at the university.  Studying abroad taught me how to break out of my capsule and comfort zone, while opening my eyes to different cultures and hardships, such as meeting with Syrian refugees.  After studying in Amman and meeting with Syrian refugees, it furthered my ambition and compassion to one day achieve my career goal of working in a developing country.  The skills I learned in Jordan greatly impacted my career intentions and further aspirations in life, and I hope to one day use these skills in a professional setting.

-Delaney Morgan, Amman, Jordan, Summer 2013

3. Studying abroad through ISA had a huge impact on my career – look at where I am now! Studying abroad allowed me to become more confident in my Spanish speaking abilities, which is a task that I use in my day to day life here at ISA. I am able to use the intercultural skills I learned abroad in my work environment, as well as the students, parents and advisors I work with from across the country. Not to mention I can better relate with my students based off of my own experiences abroad!

-Stephanie Casas, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Summer 2010 and Sevilla, Spain, Summer 2011 (and now Spain Senior Site Specialist)

united_kingdom.brighton.fall2014.with_isa.exploring_the_brighton_market.scott_perkins.24. Studying abroad changed my worldview by teaching me the importance of other cultures and the nuances of how each culture functions. As an accounting major, it was easy for me to be in Chile analyzing how their markets made a profit, why items would be sold at such a low price, etc. I loved the puzzle and uniqueness of each aspect of the market I looked at. Because of my positive experience during my study abroad, I would like to expound on those skills and satisfy my curiosity. It is my goal, after studying abroad, to return to South America with KPMG, LLP, the company with which I have been hired.

-Morgan Kroeger, Valparaiso, Chile, January 2014

5. Before I went abroad, I had vague ideas of what I wanted to do after college. Something in management, maybe in tech, maybe marketing, maybe become the next Richard Branson. After my time abroad, I knew exactly what I wanted to do–I wanted to help people have the same enriching experience I had. While in New Zealand, I had become more confident, a better speaker, and more sure of who I was and what I wanted. These new skills helped me focus on my passions, and now here I am: helping alumni such as myself unpack their experiences from abroad!

-Nikki Fabrizio, Dunedin, New Zealand, Spring 2013 (and now ISA Alumni Relations Coordinator)

6. Not only does studying abroad look great on a resume, but I learned many life skills applicable to my future career as a physical therapist. Studying abroad, especially in a country where I didn’t know the native language, took me out of my comfort zone and enhanced my adaptability. In a field where much of my day includes interacting with others, I learned to communicate more effectively (and in my case non verbally) with people much different than myself. Now, as an ISA Global Ambassador, I am furthering my communication skills and learning to effectively organize, work within a group, and think outside the box.

-Logan Smith, Granada, Spain, Summer 2013


7. Studying abroad has definitely changed the trajectory of my career goals. I always limited myself to looking for a job or opportunity to where I currently live. However, I realized that I also wanted to travel while living out my dream job and hopefully I can do that in the near future.

-Ian Danquah, Madrid, Spain, Summer 2014

8. Before I studied abroad in Reading, England, I was majoring in Nonprofit Leadership Studies with plans to work in Advancement at a private, nonprofit university, much like my own. Going through the study abroad process and experience has made me realize that my heart lies in study abroad and international travel. Therefore, I plan on attending graduate school for Intercultural Higher Education, with the goal of working in Study Abroad Advising. This way, I can help others realize and attain their dream of studying abroad and becoming as enriched as I was able to in Reading.

-Logan Heggeman, Reading, England, Spring 2014

9. Study abroad has really altered my aspirations. Currently, I am completing a degree in History. My original goal was to become a high school History teacher.  My study abroad really solidified my interest in Latin America. I have since become certified to teach English as a foreign language. I am planning to teach English in Latin America to immerse myself in Spanish. After that, I want to complete my graduate education in Latin American History to become a professor in that field. My time in Buenos Aires really helped me find focus in how I plan to use my education. It was truly an experience I will never forget and will frequently look back on.

-Brett Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Summer 2014

Tired of Netflix marathons and ready to get out and explore the world? Yeah, we know. Here you go.

What are you pursuing with your career now? If you are an ISA alum reading this, feel free to email alumni@studiesabroad.com or use our Alumni Update Form on our website to let us know where you’re at!

We wish you the best of luck with all future adventures!

5 thoughts

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with all of these, but studying abroad should be timed correctly to align better with career goals. I regret doing my study abroad at the end of my degree, which really put me out of touch with the job market I was targeting post-graduation. Re-entry back into the US has been a challenge, mostly due to being so disconnected, while friends that stayed home were well-positioned to transfer directly into a job post-graduation.

  2. My study abroad didn’t really change my career goals. However, it did change my perspective on grades, school, and the constant pressure to be the best. There is so much more than that!

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