Did Study Abroad Help Your Career? Interview with Joe Baur
Will study abroad help your career? Many people who study abroad think so. I am happy to share an interview with Joe Baur with you today about his experience abroad and especially how studying abroad in India and Costa Rica has impacted his career. He blogs at JoeBaur.com and also has a really cool Travel Podcast that you should check out: Without a Path.
Joe created a documentary film while studying abroad for a summer in India that premiered at the 2014 Human Rights Human Wrongs film festival in Norway. He also spent August 2014 – June 2015 living in Costa Rica where he studied for his Master’s at the United Nations-mandated University For Peace.
Did study abroad help your career by getting a job or a promotion?
UPEACE itself didn’t help me get a job, but I ended up working for The Tico Times as a result of being in Costa Rica and doing a bit of networking. Since then, the benefits have been more indirect. Living in Costa Rica allowed me the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the country as well as Central America. So, now I have a ton of travel content from a region that isn’t covered quite as extensively, and I have no doubt it’s led to some opportunities since then. It also forced me to write my first travelogue on living in Central America, which should be coming out in the near future.
Did studying abroad help you to gain a specific skill that you needed for your job?
Studying abroad in India taught me to see the world with a bit more nuance. I feel like many U.S. Americans are raised with this “we’re the world’s superpower and awesome and the best and that’s it” mentality. So, traveling to India broadened my horizons simplpy by being in a foreign country and interacting with different people. I’d say it made me a more independent, curious person, as well.
Costa Rica, on the other hand, forced me to improve my Spanish, which was one of the reasons for moving down there in the first place. It ultimately taught me the importance of language learning, so not only do I have conversational Spanish down, but now I make an attempt to learn as much of a foreign language as possible before traveling to a new country — even if it’s just basic pleasantries.
Did study abroad influence your career choice?
Absolutely. India gave me the travel bug and made me interested in telling stories that crossed national borders. Costa Rica solidified my interest in telling stories that people aren’t already talking about, especially from places people think are inherently too dangerous to visit.
Did study abroad make you change your career choice?
Not change, but it certainly pushed me along this idea of telling stories that people don’t already know. I’m less inclined to go to Paris and talk about the Eiffel Tower than ever before. But, I’ll go to some Parisian neighborhood that nobody in North America is talking about and see what’s going on there, or I’ll spend a week in El Salvador to show people back home that there’s more than violence going on there.
Did study abroad have any negative impacts on your career?
Absolutely not. Studying abroad is the smartest decision anyone can make.
What an inspiring story, don’t you think? Did study abroad help your career? Please share your experience in the comments. And don’t forget to check out Joe’s blog!
Inspiring story. I have not studied abroad myself, still had study trips.
I love this article!! I encourage everyone i know to study or live abroad as it can be such a life-changing experience. And like you said, it can really open your eyes to the world around us!
Yes, you are absolutely right! I am very passionate about encouraging students to spend time abroad, whether it is traveling, studying or doing an internship abroad. You’ll be a different person after such an experience.
I totally believe that study abroad has a positive results in almost every aspect of life. Even if your experience was not good, you still learned something useful for the future. Thanks a lot for sharing!
Very true Brenda, it is all a matter of perspective. When I came to the US as an exchange student, I ended up with a host family that was less than ideal. But I learned so much about how I wanted to live my life in the future and also, instead of complaining, to take matters into my own hands and change the situation, if I am not happy. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life, as I grew so much because of it.
What an interesting post! I did not have the opportunity to study abroad though I wished I had because I think it would be an amazing way to see the world with your study location as a hub. Now that I’m a parent and looking ahead at university options for my kids, I am seriously considering study abroad programs. The upsides are HUGE – language, diversity, personal growth… and the only downside I can ever come up with is they may love it SO much they might not come back. 🙂
I find it great that you are so open and encouraging your kids to go and explore the world, Natalie. Studying abroad can be a great way to see the world and yes, sometimes people get stuck at their destination (It happened to me, hehe) and new doors open for them. But the good thing is, that YOU can go to visit them then and use their home as a Hub for your adventures!
Great interview, Maria. Loved the interview u did with Christine at Travel Gluttons!
Thank you Brian. I am glad you enjoyed my interview about living and eating my way through Beijing.
Its good you have a wonderful experience in India and Costa Rica. I have not been abroad, the all the states I travelled to in this country gave me enough experience to boost my career.
I think it all depends on the country and the place where you studied as well as the specific job you want to get.
For example, my work is related to international negotiations between companies (because business is international), and my semester abroad helped me a lot to understand the specifics of another country, where there is an office of our company with which we cooperate. And of course, it’s also important that I have learned many aspects of my work.
A semester abroad may not always give you a concrete advantage, but in any case, as the article says, this experience will certainly not be disappointing for you.