Hope you all had a fantastic start into the new week! Unbelievable it is already March, spring is in the air and London is finally sunny!
You might remember that in the beginning of January I have attended the International Partners’ Conference at Regent’s University London, this year about “The Impact of International Education on Employability”. Being a Regent’s alumna they invited me to be on the student’s panel and talk about my study and work experience abroad. As I have shared in my previous articles, during my degree I went for one year to Germany and that was very good experience, both personally and professionally. In the previous article from the same event I wrote how employers view international education and now I want to share with you students’ perspective, how to make the most out of study or work period abroad, overcome any challenges and “sell” it to potential employers as your USP. While not all students on the panel were from International Events Management programme these tips are relevant for all industries – and event planners included.
The panel was moderated by Amy Baker, Editorial Director of the PIE News, a magazine for professionals in international education. Together with current students and alumni as well as Lizzie Fane, founder of Third Year Abroad, a platform that helps students study abroad and find careers afterwards we discussed this topic. Each of us went to different destination and had completely different experiences.
Some of the points that came across from all panellists included firstly the duration of stay. The longer you stay at the destination the better it is. It takes time to look for a flat, meet new friends, get familiar with the local environment AND enjoy yourself. Therefore, staying longer than four months is much recommended. Secondly, going abroad makes you more independent and encourages you to take own initiative. For some students going abroad may be their first time they actually leave home and others need to take care of all arrangements, sometimes in new language so that definitely makes you think out of the box very often and shows high level of independence and maturity. Lastly, the question of finance came up and whether going abroad is actually more expensive. The answer is – it depends. It depends on the city you are going to, whether you work there or not and your lifestyle. And there are many opportunities to study and live abroad on a budget. You will be more willing to do it when you are young rather later on when you decide to “settle down”, e.g. – when committing to a full time job. The experience is priceless!
Going back to the academia vs. experience debate, employers should be also considering if the candidate spent some time studying or working abroad. International experience can give you that one competitive advantage and take your career to the next level – whether you are looking for a job or want to start your own event business. Going abroad and finding accommodation, building new relationships, learning a new language and the local traditions etc. that is something that not only employers but future customers will greatly value. In the events industry we always have to think out of the box, have exceptionally good organisation skills, adaptability and outstanding communication skills – that, and more, is what time spent abroad can teach you.
The event took place at Regent’s University London, which is categorised as an academic event venue. Being back to university for an event and not for attending classes this time (yes!) was a new and good experience for me. The event took place not during the semester, thus the university was “privatised” for us. During the semester the venue is buzzing with activity with student-events also taking place almost daily. Some of the partners from oversee also stayed overnight at the on-site accommodation. Conference rooms are fully equipped with all necessary AV and to the higher standards but what surprised me the most was how the venue was transformed for the gala dinner and the excellent quality of food served. What I know as the refectory where students have breakfast, lunch and dinner was transformed into a beautiful and impressive hall. After the dinner we moved to the Brasserie for more drinks and networking! That was fantastic event that exceeded my expectations – and what a more beautiful venue than in the heart of Regent’s Park. Until next year!