Can a Semester Abroad Change your Career Path?

Written for & published by Abroad101.com (March 2013) Wellness Wednesday column

Direct link to original article: http://blog.studyabroad101.com/2013/03/wellness-wednesday-can-a-semester-abroad-change-your-career-path/

By Melissa Doman, M.A.

            What if I told you to take your original ideas about your future professional career after study abroad, and after graduation, and to think about them while looking at a spinning globe right in front of you?

Pretty fascinating question to think about, eh?

Through no fault of your own, sometimes it’s hard, or it may seem not important at the time, to think about the future and it’s possibilities when we are busy having the most incredible time studying abroad.

Hey, I don’t blame you, and you should focus on the amazing international experience you’re having!

As I’ve mentioned in previous postings, studying abroad is sparking a fiesta of changes within you that are so incredible for character development.  I don’t mean to add onto your developmental plate, but what if during this time overseas, you thought about how study abroad could fit into your future career plans?

While in this international context, you have the privilege of finding what your broader strengths are personally and academically, which definitely play into what you will be interested in and thrive at professionally. Pay attention to these signs! By paying attention to what piques your interests and how your interests change during study abroad, it could morph your whole concept of what types of work you considered for post-college. Remember, it takes a certain type of adaptable person to be able to study and function abroad. Use those strengths to your advantage in the job market and to broaden your scope of choices. Not all people who apply to jobs have this international leg-up on their resume like you do!

            When you’re studying abroad you find what new subjects may potentially interest you – especially in a foreign setting. I encourage you to think about how this can translate into the potential types of work you want to do, the settings you think you’d like to work in, and how study abroad can fit into what you want your future to look like. Take this time abroad as an opportunity to investigate all your options for the future. Ask yourself the following questions:

-       What do I really love to do?

-       Can I make a career out of those interests?

-       What personality strengths do I have that served me well overseas that are attractive to potential employers?

-       How does my international travel play into my career interests?

-       Does my personality suit more unconventional travel jobs?

-       How will my international experiences help me as a candidate in the job market?

-       Do I want to work overseas?

o   Examples of overseas work: Peace Corps, Teach Abroad, international NGO work, international internships

            For those of you who are still feeling a bit foggy about what type of personality you have, or what types of work environments you’d thrive in, have no fear! There’s a helpful personality type indicator that you can do to help guide you on the way. It gives you an indication of your most deep-seeded personality traits and the types of jobs/work environments you’d do well in. This tool is called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). You can take this test online (usually costs roughly $49.95) at this website:

https://www.mbticomplete.com/en/index.aspx?gclid=CKS2rePj47UCFYdT4AodB0kAWA

Once you finish it, you’ll get your results of a 4-letter personality type with a match-up of great work environments you would do well in.

There's also a wonderful book that I recommend you buy and read that I personally read after college. It’s written with humor and can really get your brain ticking about future potential professional opportunities. It’s called How’d You Score That Gig by Alexandra Levit (available on Amazon.com). It also gives you a truncated personality test and really descriptive testimonials from people within different job sectors. I found this book to be extremely helpful for myself and I hope it brings you good ju-ju as well.

Studying abroad is an incredible experience for your college years, but try to expand its impact for the next steps of your life. You never know what wonders may come from it!