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Do your International Programs Provide True Value to Students? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

International internships - Exploring Barcelona

Do your International Programs Provide True Value to Students? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Gone are the days in which students simply chose to attend university because that’s just what you do to get a good job in the future. Student input in higher education (particularly international education programs) is absolutely crucial, especially today.

Students are looking for value, and need to be shown the true value in higher education – it is up to institutions to innovate and do just that.

When it comes to international programming offered at universities, this increases ten-fold. Study or Intern Abroad programs are not just about satisfying the travel bug, or taking nice pictures for Instagram. 

In 2019, roughly 10 percent of all U.S. graduates for that year’s graduating class had any kind of international academic/work experience prior to graduating – this figure is low, and the U.S. is one of the leading nations when it comes to sending students abroad. 

What does this say about the rest of the world?

 

While there are a number of reasons for which students choose to not take part in an international program while at university, it’s notable to look at the types of opportunities offered and the value that they truly provide to students – particularly, long-term career value.

Career-readiness should be a fundamental value incorporated across the sphere of higher education, especially in 2021. Why should students commit to a particular school, a program, or enroll in a particular course, if there is little to say for long-term career prospects?

It’s no surprise that a study or intern abroad program does wonders for the individual – but it’s vital for these programs to lead in helping students develop key skills that will enhance their career-readiness post-graduation – and faster than their peers who opted not to take part in such opportunities.

The significance of the previous point is even greater when taking into account that now two full-graduating classes across the world have graduated into the pandemic.

As if the global job market was not difficult to break into before, today’s students have an increasingly difficult hill to climb and not only have to compete with one another, but existing industry professionals whose jobs became victim to the pandemic as well.

[Life After University: The Safest Route to Take After Graduation]

Four questions should come to mind when evaluating whether or not your international programs provide real career-value to students in the long-term:

 

1. Does your international program offer prospects for networking?

 

Is there guidance provided to students in showing them how to successfully network, and across cultures as well? 

A vast international network provides students with endless opportunities to learn about the world first-hand and how their desired industry can change among various cultural contexts. Additionally, having such connections will keep students apprised of global opportunities and offer chances to collaborate with new companies and reinforce university alumni networks internationally.

International Programs - networking

Absolute intern Thomas at Soho House Club during his internship in Barcelona

 

2. How well-developed are the cultural initiatives in your international programs, to further enhance your students’ cross-cultural competencies? 

 

With education at the forefront of global development, multicultural learning environments make “the ideal setting for increasing students’ cultural awareness and fostering their understanding and appreciation of those who come from a different background to their own.

International Programs - Cultural Activities

Absolute interns at Museo del Prado during their internship in Madrid, Spain

 

3. Do your programs foster opportunities that allow for students to learn or expand upon these attributes?

 

Recruiters in 2021 value skills such as adaptability, resilience and independence.

Simply “being abroad” does not correlate to being independent – or resilient, for that matter. These three skills have been cited in numerous studies not only for the traditional working environment, but also for the remote working environment, in which more and more companies world-wide have chosen to adopt (many of which will continue to do so post-pandemic). 

 

4. Do your international programs foster opportunities for language-learning? 

 

The [business] world is more interconnected than ever.

The ability to speak multiple languages bridges gaps between people and cultures, and develops stronger personal and professional relationships on which great business relationships rely. 

Moreover, the number of international employees within organizations continues to grow each year, in which colleagues must navigate cultural and linguistic barriers to help their company thrive.

 

———

The international education field as a whole (among other fields) suffered a devastating blow last year when the pandemic broke out. But the recovery has already begun, and it’s essential to rebound as best and quickly as possible – with student-interests at the core of all operations. 

Opportunities are beginning to open up. Innovation is absolutely crucial.

 

Become a focal point for the field and your students, both current and prospective alike, by developing international programs that provide true long-term career value for those who take part in them.

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