NOTE: Due for review and update in Spring 2021
Do you have what it takes to compete in a global market of today? Not sure what else you can do to develop your global competencies? Check our tips and advice on how to give your studies a global dimension and gain that edge over other graduates.
Now more than ever, it is vital that you make the most of your studies to develop the so called global mindset really sought after by employers in today’s challenging and highly globalised job market.
Whether you are an EU/Overseas student already studying internationally in the UK or a HOME student considering a career abroad after graduation, there are many ways you can increase your global competences and create an outstanding personal brand to impress future recruiters.
Give your academic work an international angle
Regardless what subject you are studying, there are simple ways on how you can make your studies more international.
Talk to your lecturers and tutors about the teaching and research they do. Many of them are engaged in international partnerships or writing on topics of global relevance. When choosing your modules, consider those with international and intercultural perspectives and try to cover these angles in your assignments and dissertation.
Where possible team up with students from other countries and cultures during class discussions or group projects. If your course is ‘with a Year in Industry’ consider an international placement or one with a company with global links.
If you are a postgraduate student, join any relevant international research networks or organise a conference that would bring students from other countries to share and discuss the research you are all involved in. Last but not least, follow global developments in your subject by reading international journals, magazines or expert blogs.
Go on a semester or a year abroad
Speak to your tutor and the International Office at your university about an opportunity of studying and/or working abroad for a semester or even a whole academic year.
Opportunities are endless and depending on your university’s international partnerships, they can range from Erasmus+ in Europe (both study and internships), working as a Teaching Assistant abroad with British Council, studying in the USA or Mexico or even doing an exchange at one of the satellite campuses of your university.
You don’t necessarily need another language to take part (as many courses abroad are also taught in English) and there is lots of support available to help your brush up on your language skills before and during your year abroad.
Studying or working abroad will equip you with amazing new skills, such as intercultural communication, planning and organising and resilience. It will also give you a fantastic opportunity to make new friends all over the world, as well as gain new perspectives on your studies and potential future career. Finally you’ll come back more mature and confident and with a clearer idea of what you like and don’t like doing after graduation!
Employers value the ability to adapt to new environments and practices, as well as people who can communicate effectively with others across different cultures and languages and your experiences abroad can provide evidence of the qualities they need.
On your return, make sure to come and speak to your careers service. The advisers there will be happy to help you articulate and present your international experience in future applications and interviews. They also organise regular workshops and events that bring along international companies to campus, so make sure to attend them, ask questions about international and intercultural opportunities and grow your networks.
Get involved with volunteering
If your course does not allow you to go on a year abroad, consider taking part in volunteering. Volunteering with local and international organisations gives you the chance to contribute to the community, improve your CV, develop new skills and have fun.
Volunteering can be a great way to gain global experience by taking part in diverse projects, from helping people to learn English to supporting local immigrants and refugees or participating in intercultural mentoring schemes.
Check out your careers service’s website to find out more about the voluntary organisations they are working with and how you can get involved. Or if you have a particular idea in mind, why not starting your own student-led project overseas?
Join a society and meet students from other countries
Through your university’s Students’ Union you can meet people from many nationalities, learn about other cultures, take on new challenges and get work experience by holding a position of responsibility in a society.
Participating in university life and the local community will enrich your time at the university and make you attractive to employers as it suggests that you can make a valuable contribution to the workplace too.
Student groups and societies welcome all students and are a great opportunity to widen your social circle, learn a new language and get familiar with different customs.
Learn another language
Ability to communicate effectively in more than one language will greatly enhance your career prospects in a global job market. It will help you develop your cultural self-awareness and give you insights into other countries and cultures. Employers value graduates who can interact confidently with diverse people personally and professionally.
Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters confirms:
“More and more employers are looking for graduates with a global mindset. This means an ability to work across different cultures and borders, an awareness of the global forces affecting organisations and the diversity of thinking to tackle challenges in a global environment. If you can also communicate effectively in more than one language, you will be well placed to make the most of international opportunities.”
Learning a new language can be sometimes added as a new module or a pathway to your degree, or taken up university’s languages centre. Check your university’s website for more details or discuss options available to you with your personal tutor.
Inspired by any of the ideas above?
Take action – visit your careers service’s website, research your options and book a careers guidance appointment to discuss your next steps.
The post was written for the Midlands International Group by Gosia Mobbs (University of Leicester), 28 June 2017.