Studying Abroad: Your Opportunity to Thrive in a Global Marketplace

Studying Abroad: Your Opportunity to Thrive in a Global Marketplace

What career path will you take? Most students completing their higher education ask themselves this question. They likely know their career goals, but are unsure of how to reach them.

When international students choose to study in the U.S., they are embarking upon a life-changing adventure to jumpstart their careers. This adventure may lead them to see places that they've never seen before, learn new skills and meet interesting people. Students can develop transferable skills that set them apart in the job market and are offered experiences that a classroom setting alone could not provide.

The Disney International Program – J-1 Academic Exchange Experience is rooted in the belief that a study abroad opportunity should be a comprehensive educational experience that can make a lifelong impression on the international student. The program is a total immersion in education, both in the classroom and in the field within the 47 square miles of the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. Students, who are sponsored by U.S. colleges or universities on a J-1 Academic Exchange Visa are able to gain valuable experience. Students learn by taking coursework through Disney Education and/or distance-learning classes from their sponsoring university, all while working at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Holistic experiences, such as the Disney International Programs allow students to make the most of their time studying in the U.S. They will reap the benefits of the knowledge they'll gain and will be able to add the experience to their résumé/CV.

Knowing all of the advantages to studying abroad in the U.S.A., interested students may be wondering what their next steps should be. How can they find out which program will give them the best experience and which educational institution will provide the learning opportunities that they're looking for? There are several factors to consider that can aid with making this decision:

Start with Your Destination

Location is important. Prospective international students should search for a study abroad location that will provide them with the best opportunities for their career path. Collegeboard.com ranked the United States as the No. 1 destination for international students seeking higher education abroad, with 30 percent of all current international students in the world studying in the U.S.A.

The U.S.A. has long been noted as a country of opportunity. It is made up of a multicultural population with races from every continent, making it a diverse study abroad destination.

Finding the Right Institution/Program

Learning is the main goal of a study abroad opportunity. Students who choose to study abroad in the U.S.A., learn from higher education institutions that are known throughout the world for their quality reputation. According to StudyOverseas.com, there are more than 4,000 public and private colleges, universities and community colleges in the United States. This includes over 600 public four-year colleges and universities and over 1,650 private four-year colleges and universities. Students looking to study abroad have the opportunity to find a U.S. university or college size that fits them best. This may be a large university with thousands of students, or a small, private institution with only several hundred students.

Choosing to study abroad can also be more than just studying in a traditional American university or college classroom. Interested students should research their options and learn how the different learning and working components will integrate to form their overall experience.

International students who participate in the Disney International Program – J-1 Academic Exchange Experience have the opportunity to learn from experienced Disney professionals. As part of their internship, students may take collegiate courses recommended for credit by the American Council on Education (ACE). Each of the Disney College Program courses is focused around an area of expertise at the Walt Disney World Resort such as communication, hospitality, human resources, leadership and marketing. Students will have required textbooks to read, papers to write and special projects to complete. In addition to the ACE-accredited courses, students may have the opportunity to participate in Professional Development Studies, Disney Exploration Series and a number of additional learning activities.

Experiential Learning Enhances Your Résumé/CV

Learning by working is a large factor to consider for students who are looking to find an experience that will have the biggest impact on their résumé/CV. Beyond promoting academic enrichment and personal growth, working abroad enhances employment prospects.

Globalization continues to have a large impact on the world's modern workforce. Competencies that were once considered essential for successful professionals are no longer sufficient in a marketplace in which borders are becoming obsolete. By working abroad in a new environment with different cultures, international students are able to gain global awareness, cultural sensitivity and business acumen. These skill sets allow students to become leaders in their future organizations and champions for effectively working in a global marketplace.

Participating in an experiential learning opportunity, such as working abroad, allows students to immerse themselves into the global environment, leaving with a better understanding of different cultures and how to form effective relationships.

Employers seek students who have studied abroad because those students possess skills that are valued in today's competitive workplace. These skills not only include international knowledge–a significant asset within itself–but also transferable skills, such as cross-cultural communication, flexibility and resilience. Students who return from successful studying abroad experiences often demonstrate that they can thrive in new and challenging environments.

Choosing to study in the United States also gives students the opportunity to learn from major companies, such as Disney. Future employers take notice of this kind of experience and students are enriched by the knowledge they've gained from working for a world-renowned company.

Students who participate in the Disney International Program – J-1 Academic Exchange Experience work in front-line roles in areas such as hospitality, full-service food and beverage, merchandise and operations. Although these students may not pursue a career in hospitality, entertainment or service industries, they will have the opportunity to learn transferable skills that will be valuable to them in many of their future endeavors. Some of these skills include guest service, effective communication, teamwork, leadership, self-confidence and responsibility.

Networking is also an important asset to take advantage of while studying abroad. Students who participate in the Disney International Programs can explore networking opportunities with Disney leaders from a variety of disciplines. This allows the student to make professional connections that could help them with their future career. Additionally, the program offers networking events to meet an even larger variety of Disney professionals and make even more connections.

Interacting and Living with Students from around the World

Being able to interact with other students and peers allows international students to further their networking connections to span the globe. Students who choose to study abroad not only have the opportunity to meet other international students while studying at their college or university in the U.S.A, but also have the chance to meet them while participating in their chosen program.

Disney International Programs participants live near the Walt Disney World Resort in a multicultural environment with people from all over the world. This experience gives students the chance to grow socially through making new friends and sharing cultures. Students experience diversity and expand their worldview, returning home with new perspectives about themselves, their own culture and the world.

Learn more about Disney International Programs

There are several options for current students and recent college graduates within the Disney International Programs – J-1 Academic Exchange Experience. Students may enroll full-time in an American university or college on a J-1 Academic Exchange Visa and spend five months to a year taking courses through the U.S. school while working at the Walt Disney World Resort. U.S. schools partner with international universities and offer full-time credit options to exchange students to allow participants to choose this option. Disney International Programs also work with certain colleges and universities to offer post-graduate certificate programs.

To learn more about Disney International Programs, including qualifications needed to participate and which universities/colleges work with the program, visit disneyinternationalprograms.com. From there, click on the link for the Disney International College Program.

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By Alyse Hand
Recruitment Marketing Communications Representative for Walt Disney World Resort

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