With an earlier report from the IEAA stating that 24% of Australian students now undertake mobility programs,’Career outcomes of learning abroad – short-term programs’ is based on responses from over 3,300 graduates regarding their views on how short-term study abroad has improved their job prospects.
“It’s easier to fit in a short-term program than a semester exchange program”
“The growth in short-term programs has really opened up access to learning abroad for students who might not have otherwise had the opportunity,” said Davina Potts, the report’s author and chair of IEAA’s Research Committee.
“The cost is less prohibitive and the prospect of going overseas for a few weeks – as opposed to re-locating for a whole semester – can be much less daunting for students who are the first in their family to travel overseas.”
Students who were the first in their family to attend university made up 41% of short-term study abroad participants, while 44% were of low or medium socioeconomic status.
“First in family students are more likely to undertake an internship or a study tour and are more likely to study in Asia,” Potts told The PIE News.
“This may be influenced by proximity or funding available through the New Colombo Plan, or by timing – it’s easier to fit in a short-term program than a semester exchange program.”
While 63% said that the experience had improved their long-term job prospects, respondents also added that study abroad served as “a good discussion point in job interviews with prospective employers”.
One noted that they “gained a lot
of interviews and job opportunities after graduation because of how impressive and interesting the study tour looked on [their] resume”.
The type of program also played a role in impact, with participants in international internships and practicums reporting higher levels of skills development, career impact and greater relevance to their current job.
However, some concern still exists that employers do not fully understand the benefits of short-term study abroad.
While colleges and universities can help to increase awareness among employers, students choosing the right program is also important.
“Employers do not get excited by seeing that a potential employee studied abroad. The mere act of studying abroad gives no favours and promises no transformation,” Jeremy Bassetti of Valencia College in Florida told The PIE.
“Employers want to see what the candidate actually did with their time abroad, what they learned, and how those experiences abroad translate into valuable and desirable qualities for the employer.
“Did they gain foreign language proficiency? Did they volunteer for non-profits? Job-seekers should emphasise the concrete skills, and soft skills, they acquired.”