Employers Stress Importance of Studying Abroad to Business World

By Sara Sazama, Michelle Slobodnik, Cari Yelvington

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire offers a study abroad program that provides many opportunities for College of Business students. Students who choose to partake in this program attain a competitive edge when interviewing for a career, increase their knowledge of business, as well as gain new cultural experiences.

UW-Eau Claire offers study abroad programs in nine different countries geared towards business majors which include Australia, England, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Scotland, Sweden, and new for 2008, Greece. Each location involved with the program offers many benefits to those students who take advantage of the opportunity.

According to the Center for International Education’s web site, “International experience is increasingly important in today’s global economy. Employers are looking for graduates who are interculturally competent.”

Business is a competitive field to get into and study abroad may give students the edge they need to obtain a position in their field of choice. These types of programs help demonstrate the student’s ability to work with a diverse group of people. Kristi Halmstad, Director of Human Resources at Mid-Wisconsin Bank in Medford said, “Job candidates who have studied abroad have a better appreciation for different cultures.” This in turn, she said makes them more understanding of cultural differences among their future coworkers and business clients.

Along with increasing intercultural understanding, study abroad programs emphasize the importance of languages throughout the world. Though knowing a second language is not required in all programs, students will still be faced with the dialects of a new country. Steve McDonald, Managing Partner of Abdo, Eick, & Meyers accounting firm located in Edina, MN points out firms that have interns with Spanish language experience can help Spanish speaking clients immensely.

Choosing to study abroad also shows that a student is willing to learn new things. Halmstad said, “Studying abroad is similar to an extracurricular activity. It demonstrates that the student is willing to go above and beyond learning the technical information, through the application of their knowledge.” Students who study abroad she said are generally perceived as future employees who are willing to take chances in order strive for the best.

By taking part in a study abroad program, students are not only learning in a different country, but how business is conducted. By observing normal transactions, such as grocery shopping, the student has the chance to learn about retail as it occurs in a foreign country. The student also has the opportunity to communicate with residents of the country, which enables them to see the inner workings of the business world.

Students should not just study abroad as a resume builder. They should study abroad as an enhancement to the degree they are pursuing. McDonald said he believes studying abroad is a personal decision college students should consider. “It’s a great life experience,” he said.

Halmstad agrees. “You will never get the opportunity to go abroad for any longer than a few weeks upon graduation.” she said.

College is the time to take this excellent opportunity. Studying abroad offers many opportunities to travel both within the country and to those surrounding, both of which are experiences that will change the way one views the world.

The study abroad program at UW-Eau Claire offers many benefits to those who take advantage of it. Along with expanding their horizons, students are participating in a once in a lifetime experience. Studying abroad will not only create lasting memories, it may be one step to get the perfect job.

Sara Sazama Michelle Slobodnik Cari Yelvington

Sara Sazama, left, is a senior finance major from Athens, WI. Michelle Slobodnik, middle, is a senior accounting major from Farmington, MN. Cari Yelvington, right, is a senior management major from Two Rivers, WI. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Business Writing class.

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