By: Cara Stokes
The job market for teens and twenty-something's continues to be one of the toughest on record. Research by IES Abroad found that studying abroad can make students more marketable to employers.
Kelsie Stanley studied abroad three times during her four years at USC. She visited Turkey and Sicily and Florence, Italy.
"My freshman year I studied in the summer in Sicily and then as soon as I got back I started planning my next trip," said Stanley.
Now that she is a senior, Stanley says it is time to find a job. She has had several internships but says that's not what employers ask her about.
"Even interviews that aren't related to international education, the first thing they do when they look at my resume is say 'Wow, you've studied abroad three times, tell me about that," Stanley said. "I think that its something that sets me and others who have studied or worked abroad apart from those who haven't."
Chris Brown is the marketing and recruitment coordinator for the study abroad office at USC. He says many students don't realize the career development opportunities that come with studying in another country.
"There are a lot of skills you pick up on while studying abroad that make you really marketable in the workplace," said Brown. "In our job market today that is so focused on internationalism its so important to have those skills."
The IES Abroad study found 59 percent of employers thought study abroad experience would be valuable to an individual's career within their company. The study also found 97 percent of students who studied abroad found jobs within a year of graduating compared to only 49 percent for those who hadn't.
Lauren McCall spent a semester studying in England. She says she originally went on the trip because she wanted to travel but ended up learning a lot about herself.
"It hit me when I pulled up in front of the place that I was going to live and said I am in a different country, I don't know anybody and I have no idea where I am. Being able to handle that situation and flourish in that situation I think it says a lot about the individual," said McCall.
McCall says she hopes her experience will show employers she has a desire to continue learning.
"I think it shows the initiative and willingness to do so and to explore new things and to not just be kind of stuck in your situation or your environment and I think employers are really attracted to that," said McCall.
Stanley graduates in May with a business degree but says her experience with study abroad programs has given her a new career path.
"My junior summer I got an internship working in an Italian university being their marketing intern so then I saw how the foreign institutions work," Stanley said.
Stanley has found a job. Starting this summer, she will be working to recruit American students for the same university she studied at in Italy.
Nearly 1200 USC students studied abroad in 29 different countries last year. The study abroad office says the number of students interested in studying abroad continues to grow each year.