I fundamentally disagree, and believe that the international student experience is about much more than just working hard – but I do think there are skills you pick up while studying in a different country that can make your time in America look great on a job application.
If you're thinking about taking a year abroad – or about heading to the U.S. for a full degree program – but are unsure about the benefits of doing so, the following are some career skills that studying in the U.S. can help you develop.
1. Ability to succeed in an unfamiliar environment: Simply the act of moving to another country to study shows that you are willing to work outside your comfort zone.
As soon as you move to America you may find yourself acting differently as you adapt to your new environment, and it's worth keeping a mental note of the ways you adjust to this change.
Making the leap will show you to be proactive in your choices and willing to take on new challenges. If you can prove that you are able to succeed in an unfamiliar environment, you've demonstrated you have a resourceful personality.
[Get tips on adapting to college as a new international student.]
2. Interpersonal skills and knowledge of a different culture: Having good people skills is essential to working relationships, and having been a part of an international community during your time at college – and subsequently building a network of contacts around the world – will make you a champion.
A working knowledge of a different culture will go a long way toward making you appear well-rounded on a resume and during interviews.
[Gain job skills by volunteering as an international student.]
3. Adaptability: Demonstrating that you can accumulate knowledge from a different educational system will show you can absorb information that is stylistically different and delivered in an unfamiliar way compared with what you are used to in your home country.
In particular, learning to adapt your writing style to suit an American format is an incredibly useful skill to have, especially if you're going to be in a writing-based career. You'll be able to say that you are capable of writing and producing work aimed at audiences both from your home country and from the U.S.
As the Internet becomes an increasingly integral part of our professional lives, being able to tailor written content to meet the demands of people around the world is a valuable skill to possess.
[Check out internship tips for international students.]
4. Unique life experience: When so many people are walking away from their higher education with a solid set of grades, what you really need on a resume is something that's going to make you stand out.
If there's one thing traveling across the world to go to college will give you, it's a unique selling point – an experience other job applicants won't necessarily have up their sleeves.
The myriad experiences you gather during your time at a U.S. college will ultimately help you build a package of useful skills for the future. And if a year or more in America doesn't provide you with that unique selling point, I don't know what will.
Emily Burt, from the United Kingdom, studied at the University of California—Berkeley on an exchange program. She will graduate from the University of East Anglia in 2014 with a bachelor's in American literature and creative writing.