Originally Posted: January 2017
By: Elana Ross (guest blogger)
While every employer loves to see study abroad experiences on a resume, studying abroad is also an interesting opportunity to grow professionally. The in-class experience is one dimension of cultural learning, but networking applies the culture to a work environment. It also gives more substance to talk about in interviews once you have returned.
Figuring out how to network while abroad can be very daunting, but there are so many ways different options to approach networking.
Firstly, there are different internship programs offered both at Miami and other study abroad providers. Even semester long study abroad programs offer the opportunity to intern along with studying. This is probably the easiest way to start building a global network and understanding global business trends.
Before you start studying abroad reach out to past employers to see if they know anyone in your location abroad. Since you already have a rapport established with them you don’t need to build credibility. For example, at a previous internship someone I worked with transferred from the Paris office. Before I left to study abroad in Paris I reached out to her and she connected me with someone in the Paris office. This is an effective way to grow you existing network within a specific company.
Next look at the multinational companies that recruit at your school. Through the recruiter or the main point of contact at the company you can find out if they have a location abroad. Reach out to them and see if they can put you in contact with someone in their office abroad. Since you are showing interest in their company in a more unconventional way it makes you look proactive and stand out to the recruiter too.
LinkedIn is an amazing resource for networking in general and abroad. If you identify an industry or company of interest, you can filter by those factors along with your location abroad to find potential contacts. Through LinkedIn you can potentially find a professional’s contact information. If not, you can find the format of their email (i.e., Firstame.email@example.com or other variations) and send them a cold email.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, remember that your most valuable contacts abroad are your peers. Studying abroad is a great way to develop a broad network of friends and potential professional contacts down the road. Get to know your peers, their interests, and stay in touch.
Just remember it is never too early to start building a professional network and going abroad is the perfect way to create a strong, global network.