The Value of Studying Abroad for Business Students


Whether they are sourcing components from Asia, investing in South American start-ups, lending to European sovereigns, or managing back-office support functions in the Middle East, today’s business leaders operate in a globalized environment. Business students hoping to someday fill those leaders’ shoes face the challenge of preparing themselves to navigate the global economy. One particularly helpful element of that education can be studying abroad as an undergraduate or graduate student! Here’s why:

Learning by Failing in Unfamiliar Business Cultures

Currencies may be fungible, but business cultures are not. Each has its own rhythms, assumptions, and paths to cooperation, from when to conduct a meeting to how to read non-verbal cues. Misunderstanding these differences can be costly for a business person trying to negotiate a deal or forge a partnership. Without exaggeration, the success of an entire cross-border enterprise can depend upon the cultural awareness business leaders show in important moments. There is very little room for mistakes.

Business students, in contrast, do not face the same high stakes when they study and intern overseas. Instead, their status as students frees them to make and learn from cultural mistakes, without the success or failure of a business hanging in the balance. By immersing themselves in an unfamiliar business culture, and experiencing those growing pains as a student — instead of as employees or entrepreneurs — these future business leaders can develop the instincts for navigating ever-changing and complex global economic landscapes.

Spotting and Capitalizing on Emerging Trends

Studying abroad isn’t just about developing cultural awareness, however! Business students with a keen eye for change and opportunity can use their time abroad to develop entrepreneurial ideas, thus putting classroom learning into action.

As outsiders to a foreign business culture, international students benefit from a perspective that students native to that culture may lack. With the knowledge they acquire in classrooms, moreover, these students have the business-theoretical foundation to spot unrecognized emerging trends and to locate them in historical and economic context. By pairing theory with real-world insight and a fresh perspective, business students studying abroad can lay the foundation for entrepreneurial breakthroughs that they would never have experienced had they limited their education to their culture of origin!

Surviving Through Collaboration

An essential element of the life of any business student, undergraduate or graduate, is learning to collaborate and discover the power of bonds cemented by facing and overcoming challenges as a team. Few environments are more conducive to learning these lessons than studying abroad.

In facing the challenge of navigating a foreign culture, speaking an unfamiliar language, and surviving in settings that feel alien, students quickly discover that sharing their experiences, difficulties, and solutions with their fellow students can make life abroad easier and more enjoyable — a lesson reliably that carries over into business.

Becoming a Global Business Citizen by Studying Abroad

Beyond the camaraderie of sharing overseas learning with fellow students, studying abroad also fosters opportunities for forging relationships with foreign business leaders and future leaders. Whether through friendships with international students in a study group or mentoring from a local business leader, the bonds students form on the ground in international business environments can enrich their lives, opening doors to new ventures and adventures.

And, of course, studying abroad allows business students to develop useful, practical skills for a future in business. Speaking a foreign language is increasingly a prerequisite for the leader of any business that has an international component, which is most of them. So, too, does studying abroad give students a degree of comfort and familiarity with that staple of business life: frequent travel. You can even get started on your frequent flier miles!

Study Abroad for the Experience – and Education – of a Lifetime

In short, for a student contemplating a career in business, few experiences have more built-in value than studying abroad. The business person who develops the skill for reading and responding to cultural differences, who can spot opportunity in unfamiliar terrain, and who has learned the strength of teams to overcome challenges always has a leg up on the competition!

Before you study abroad, make sure you are enrolled in a business program that gives you the skills and knowledge to succeed and learn in a whole new environment. Contact The Citadel today to learn more!