Sun… Sea… and Successful Careers: How a study year abroad has benefitted my career prospects

Studying abroad may sound like a year of fun and travel, but few people realise how beneficial it can be to students looking to advance their careers.

At a time where it seems everyone has a solid 2:1 degree from a prestigious university, a year abroad can make you stand out from the rest.

Here are my top 5 reasons for how studying abroad has benefitted me and made me more appealing to employers.

1. Unique experiences = unique applications

Applicants need to be different and memorable and studying abroad can help you achieve this.  It is a unique experience which stands out on you CV and in applications – it’s also an excellent talking point in interviews.  

2. Develop new skills and grow

Moving overseas to study comes with numerous challenges and these help you grow into a more resilient and interesting individual.

For example, some of the units I studied were difficult and being in a new jurisdiction was quite confusing.  This was exacerbated by the fact that because I was on the other side of the world I couldn’t access my usual support networks (friends and family).

I overcame this by making friends in my classes who were happy to collaborate and explain new concepts and asking for help when I needed it. Most importantly, I remained determined and resilient. Experiences like these really tested and developed my skills; I have become a more inquisitive problem solver with heightened emotional intelligence.

3. Demonstrate competencies

Many applications for law firms and other companies include competency and strength-based questions and providing examples of when you have demonstrated them is essential.

When I moved to Australia, I didn’t know anyone, yet after a few weeks I had formed a strong network of friends from around the world.  This demonstrates that I am a confident individual, excellent at building deep, meaningful relationships and communicating.  It shows that I am self-motivating; I had to be proactive and attend events to meet new people.

4. The extra time allows you to tailor your degree

A year abroad means an extra year studying different modules in a new jurisdiction.  At Monash I took very different law units, which aren’t offered at Warwick, such as Private Investment Law and Australian Commercial Law.  Cory Bloxham, studied Animal Law at Monash whilst Emily Bahous studied European Integration and European Finance at Roma Tre University.  

This allows you to cultivate a deeper understanding of which areas interest you, and can help you decide what to specialise in.  For me, having studied Private Investment law, I now know that I want to work in the financial law sector, as this unit gave me an insight into the law around investing.

Studying a new jurisdiction gives you an advantage over other students, who have only studied law relating to England and Wales.  I now have an understanding of the law in Australia and how the legal system operates, which is something you can only glean from either studying or working in another country.

5. One extra year of University doesn’t hold you back

Although studying abroad adds an extra year to your degree (you graduate a year later than your peers) this doesn’t disadvantage you or hold you back.  The year allows you more time to consider what you would like to do post-graduation and to experience another culture and develop an international perspective.

You can still apply for internships ready for when you return, so you aren’t missing out on valuable work experience.  Whilst I was in Australia, I applied for, and successfully obtained, an internship through Warwick Summer Internships.  My interviews were conducted by Skype or telephone and I didn’t meet the team until the first day of my internship.

In summary…

There are so many reasons to do a year abroad, and the fact that it makes you more employable and can benefit your career prospects is just one of many!

If you have any questions about doing a year abroad, please feel free to contact me.

Lucy Larner, October 2019

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