By the SMU Social Media Team
Much has been said about how global exposure programmes help to jumpstart careers. A recent PWC report stated that 71% of millennials expressed a desire to work outside their home countries at some point in their career. Yet less has been said about the lifelong benefits such global exposure can bring. Here are 6 benefits a stint overseas can add to your university experience and beyond.
1. Network of international contacts
It’s cliché but it’s true—building a network of international contacts does set you up for a better career position. Referrals, resources, and information on how overseas markets are performing—all these don’t just give your career a leg up, but provide invaluable general knowledge that might one day be applied to your life as well.
2. Learning a foreign language
Perhaps that pricey French class isn’t that bad a decision after all, with the rising demand of bilingual and multilingual graduates. The ability to converse fluently in a foreign language is one skill that is increasingly valued not just by companies but by individuals as well. From opening the doors to more markets across the globe to effective communication to develop more user-centric solutions, being able to speak another language has multiple benefits. Recent studies also reveal that bilingualism also has beneficial cognitive effects such as being better able to multitask, and better decision-making.
3. Being more culturally intelligent
Beyond the exposure to how other cultures and markets work, immersing yourself in another culture gives a greater appreciation for diversity. When you’re able to deftly navigate the unfamiliar and ambiguous gestures that a greater cultural intelligence brings, you have a headstart in being able to understand and handle the mélange of relationships and social situations you may face throughout your career journey.
4. Independence / Responsibility
A sign of maturity is often revealed in how one handles one’s problems. And being in foreign territory, you’ll soon realise the problems and responsibilities you face growing in the numbers and size. From paying your electricity bills on time to finding a community you can connect with, being independent means taking care of yourself and your own wellbeing, and that translates to a better work ethic in the office.
5. Spatial awareness
Let’s face it—how many times have we got lost simply navigating from our apartment to the bus stop? Being in a foreign place forces us to take note of our surroundings, increasing our spatial awareness. Perhaps we often take what we have for granted, but when our environment is constantly changing we cannot afford to do so. Being more observant is also an important career trait where recognising trends and behavioural patterns clues us into the more intricate workings of our workplace.
6. Stronger ties with our family and friends
Being thrust out of our comfort zone forces us to cling to what’s familiar. Whether it is frequenting the corner café thanks to the friendly waiter, or going out of our way to find a club of like-minded individuals, we tend to forge stronger ties with those around us. The solitary nature of living alone in a foreign country forces us to step up and be more sociable while also strengthening the bonds we have back home to make up for the gaping distance. Such opening up of oneself to build communities also has a trickle-down effect on our workplace relations, where we seek to forge a community that makes our stay in this foreign place feel a little more like home.
Undergraduate Applications are now open! Find out more about our global exposure opportunities at admissions.smu.edu.sg.
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