Through advancements in technology and the growth of the internet and social media, the world continues to become more connected. Ideas, and now even people, can travel quickly, with many taking the chance to gain valuable experience abroad.
For students in particular, this holds potential for personal growth and career development. More students are seeking out international experiences in the form of volunteering programs, research internships or career internships.
Millennials travel more than any other generation, with Gen Z following closely behind. But, what does this mean? And, what kind of benefits does an international travel experience have on a student’s future?
Why gain international experience?
Volunteering or interning abroad allows you to learn about cultures, ideas, values, beliefs and religions practised by people around the world. You’ll broaden your worldview, add to your personal development, and be part of a global community.
There are three main ways that travelling abroad can contribute towards your future career – and give you the chance to contribute to projects with a sustainable, long-term impact.
1) It encourages personal growth
An international volunteer or intern experience is a good way to take your mind off technology. While necessary to stay connected, technology can keep you stuck in your comfort zone or make you retreat into the world of social media.
This could limit your real-life interactions, making it harder to develop important skills, such as appropriate social interaction and communication.
An international travel experience can be beneficial to your growth if done through an organisation with sustainable development programs. You’ll have the opportunity to get to know yourself outside of your comfort zone and discover your strengths and weaknesses – while making a positive impact on the world.
2) It promotes professional development
Professional development doesn’t only apply to your future workplace. While you’re a student you can gain practical hands-on experience through an international volunteer project, a career internship or a teenage volunteering program.
Each of these options will teach you soft skills, which are increasingly sought after in the workplace. Soft skills include empathy, relating to others, and being able to effectively communicate with people – skills necessary for any career you want to move into.
You’ll also develop other important soft skills, including communication, flexibility, leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, adaptability and critical thinking.
3) It can help you to find your passion
Finding meaning in the work that you do is linked to being passionate about your career choice. International experiences will help you discover what inspires you, and give you opportunities to integrate this into your lifestyle and career path.
Your experiences abroad could also help you work through complex questions or situations. You’ll get to break down the different components of your life experiences (your thoughts, your personality, your hopes and dreams, and your external reality), and piece them back together in a meaningful way for your future.
Travelling abroad takes you out of the environment that you’re used to and opens you up to opportunities you might not have known existed. This will help you to reach your career goals.
The value of an international experience comes from how much you immerse yourself in it. The goal is to go beyond mere exposure to cultures, ideas and experiences, and attempt to understand them more deeply.
This will broaden your global perspective and contribute to you becoming a more well-rounded person. It’ll also make you a more attractive candidate for further education and employment.
The importance of international experience can’t be underestimated. So get inspired and go abroad!
Feeling ready to venture out into the world? Find out more about GVI’s volunteering and internship abroad programs. You can choose from community development, wildlife conservation, marine conservation, women’s empowerment, and many other programs worldwide.
We understand that you may have questions about how COVID-19 will affect your travel plans. Visit our FAQs page which explains our latest safety protocols in response to COVID-19.
Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.