The Long Term Positive Career Impact of Studying Abroad

by Rita Schreyer

When I decided to study abroad the summer before 12th grade, my decision was based on the desire to live somewhere glamorous like Europe and have the chance to do better in my high school Spanish class. Thanks to the placement methods of AFS (American Field Service), I ended up in a small underdeveloped town in the northeast of Brazil, not very glamorous, and eight weeks of Portuguese only messed up my Spanish once and for all. But now, over twenty years later, I find that fortuitous choice has had a long lasting positive impact on my career growth. As I continue to recruit, assess and mentor students that are beginning their careers, I'd like to encourage school counselors to add the study abroad option into their arsenal of tools in helping to build better future businesspeople.

When school counselors and parents are helping to set a student on a long term course that will lead to their optimal career outlook, I encourage them to consider the following positive attributes that result from a study abroad experience earlier in life.

Building Maturity

Building Unique and Marketable Skill Sets

Selling the Experience

Additional Resources

There are a variety of excellent programs that have vast information available online. Each program has a slightly different philosophy on placing the student in a particular country, and each family needs to consider the duration of the stay and the overall impact on studies in the U.S. Below are some links to the better-known organizations that sponsor students.

AFS International
Rotary International Programs
Youth for Understanding
School for International Training
U.S. Network for Education Information

School counselors who already support study abroad programs may be seeking ways to reach more students who may not have the financial means to travel abroad themselves. They are encouraged to seek the development of school clubs and finding local families to sponsor students from overseas that wish to live and study in the U.S. Having a foreign student in school can expose a larger number of students to the unusual and gratifying experience of the exotic and may be sufficient to motivate more to take the plunge and go overseas themselves.



 Career Convergence welcomes articles with an international connection.

Rita Schreyer has a MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and a BA in International Affairs from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Rita worked in international trade policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and spent seven years with Mobil Oil Corporation. In addition to her regular responsibilities at Mobil, Rita was a master recruiter and worked with business schools and undergraduate institutions to fill various positions in the Mobil network. Rita now has her own company based in Southern Florida developing new businesses in the Central American region and dedicates a good deal of time interviewing U.S. and international students for positions in the new businesses she creates. She can be reached at
Email: rms@latinprojectsllc.com