There is no denying it: globalization is happening.
It has happened. The workforce and workplace is global. And college graduates need to be able to thrive in it. More than ever, it is important for those entering the workforce to be able to communicate across cultures, and education abroad is the best way to gain those skills in real life experiences.
Participating in an education abroad program during my undergraduate years at Michigan State University was the most important experience in launching my career. Granted, I now work in education abroad, so my experience relates directly. However, the skills I gained while abroad in the Czech Republic for a semester are invaluable for any field. The top two skills I practiced while abroad were communication and problem solving.
- Communication: I was one of the only Americans in classrooms and residence halls full of Europeans, Asians, and Africans during my semester in Olomouc, Czech Republic. English was the common language, yes, but accents, communication styles, and cultures were very diverse. During my semester abroad, I learned to communicate in the classroom and in my daily social life with folks from across the globe. Now, I work professionally with folks across the globe and thanks to my education abroad experience, I can communicate with them with ease.
- Problem Solving Skills: Before I even arrived in the Czech Republic, I gained a lot of skills in problem solving. Unfortunately, I experienced a lot of difficulties and delays in obtaining my student visa. In order to obtain my visa, I contacted several offices at MSU, at my host university in the Czech Republic, and in the US & Czech government. I had to practice a lot of patience, but also be tactical in how I would solve my problem. I was successful in the end, thankfully! In job interviews since, I have told recounted this experience and I do think it has gained me positive points.
In addition to gaining these skills, I also think I became a better American and Global Citizen while abroad. Before spending significant time abroad, really talking with locals and others who are traveling, I don’t think it is possible for an American to really understand the influence the United States has around the world. At times it was very challenging to keep up with the questions and debates my classmates would have with me, seeing me as somewhat of an authority on US politics and culture. Through those challenging conversations, I learned how to articulate my values as an American and show my classmates that many Americans do care about diversity and globalization. I think it is very important for young people to spend time abroad, learning about themselves and how to articulate their values with people from other nations.
About the Author:
Kellie Clock is ASP’s Summer Short Course Program Coordinator, and an alumna of Michigan State University. When she’s not planning excursions and activities for ASP, she enjoys crocheting, snuggling her dog, and going to Lush. Find out more about Kellie here.
Interested in learning more about our programs and exchanges? Take a look at our website, americansemester.msu.edu, where you can find a variety of resources.