International Relations: a round table at the Long Night of Careers about the importance of an international experience for the career path
International Relations and Study abroad Service
17 December 2019
The Long Night of Careers is an event organized at USI by its Career Service and simultaneously held at 10 other Swiss universities and academic institutions. USI hosted 70 companies, 190 experts (of which 50 alumni), 5 student associations, 24 professors and assistants and 1000 students who took part in the 110 scheduled events: a rich programme of workshops, CV checks, individual sessions with experts, as well as a Food Court and closing party (more: https://www.14nov2019.usi.ch/en/long-night-careers-usi)
The International Relations and Study Abroad Service was present with an interactive round table to showcase the benefits of a mobility period abroad for the career path. We were very happy to host a good group of participants, proving that this is a relevant topic for our students and an attribute that is valued when building a resume.
For this event, we invited four USI graduates who are currently employed in organizations with international outreach and who had participated in one (or more) mobility programmes during their studies at USI:
- Irene, Junior Project Coordinator, Pulse Advertising (Master in Management, mobility at Peking University HSBC Business School)
- Marta, Account Executive, Havas (Master in Marketing, mobility at Copenhagen Business School)
- Giovanna, Digital Business Integration Consultant, Accenture (Master in Management and Informatics and mobility at TUM, Munich)
- Elena, Digital Project Manager, Vodafone (Master in Marketing and mobility at TUM, Munich)
After a brief presentation of the four speakers, we kicked off the night by asking them to share their personal experience. In particular, how the mobility period has had an impact on their professional career and how it is valued within the organization.
Very interesting to hear was how certain organizations consider the experience abroad a must-have, and how the lack of it may put a barrier in job applications. Elena gave the audience the concrete example of her job interview: the interviewer asked specific questions about the host university, why choosing that particular destination, and the list of exams taken abroad. In her organization, the international experience is a great asset and may facilitate access to internal graduate programmes, global positions opportunities and career accelerators.
Irene explained that in her position, it happens to her to carry out job interviews and in that role, she always asks candidates what type of international experience they have, being this theme so dear to her. She further explains that her decision to spend a semester in China is also useful in today’s work environment because it is now consolidated the interest of the Western world for China and the Far East regions.
Furthermore, they agreed that the mobility period is indeed a plus per se, but also supports other aspects of a curriculum vitae such as the language competencies and the acquisition of a number of so-called soft skills, desirable qualities not necessarily related to acquired knowledge, that create a person’s personality traits. The speakers also stressed the fact that students should start building and enriching their CV during their studies, instead of waiting to graduate. And it is thanks to such experiences that one’s CV stands out among the many that organizations receive daily.
The topic of soft skills was tackled also among the audience, called to answer some questions “live” through an online tool to create a participative environment. The results were then commented on by the speakers. One soft skill that was considered particularly relevant by the audience is the ability to work in teams. The speakers agreed: along with the aptitude to work in international teams, a period abroad also helps to develop one’s ability to be flexible and adaptable to diverse situations and ecosystems and fosters a stronger problem-solving attitude.
Yet, the audience and the speakers did not always share the same opinion. One soft skill that was not considered crucial by the audience was “Curiosity and openness towards new things”. Marta took the opportunity to express surprise for this result, since in her opinion, being and staying open towards whatever lays outside our comfort zone is a fundamental attribute not only to enjoy a period abroad at most but also to be able to operate in an international environment, where new and unexpected situations are just around the corner.
The round table was also the occasion for the audience to ask more practical questions. Giovanna and Elena gladly remembered their time together in Munich as roommates and explained to the students how they settled down and how they resolved the bureaucracy of moving abroad.
To sum it up, we would like to offer three takeaway of the night:
- Start building your CV during your studies – don’t wait until you graduate;
- Emphasize your experience abroad, bring it up during job interviews – it is an added value (if not a must) for most organizations;
- Stay curious, always!
We once again thank the Career Service of USI for giving us this opportunity, our four USI graduates for their availability, their enthusiasm and for sharing such interesting and insightful information, and all those who participated in the round table, hoping that it has been of value and that has given the audience some food for thoughts and inspiration to do an experience abroad.
We remind our USI students that they can find all relevant information about mobility on our page: www.usi.ch/en/university/info/relint or by fixing a personal appointment with us.