Money money money
Right off the bat, the title that got you to click on this blog is misleading. Sue me! You are not about to read a 10 step list on how to make a lot of money while on exchange. Nor are you about to read how to nail the job interview – or how to manipulate the national lottery of Australia! You are not going to get tips on how to get a load of scholarships, nor gain an understanding of the tax benefits of being abroad.
No, the riches I will be writing about here are not even necessarily of the monetary kind (although they could be that too). Rather, I’ll be writing on my views on some of the benefits of going on exchange. I know – how boring. However, you have already clicked so why not stay?
A simple cost/benefit analysis
Eight months ago, I had no intentions of going on exchange. I had a job on the side of my studies, which I was very happy with, and just wanted to finish my degree as painlessly as possible, and get into the “real world”…the sooner the better! At this point, I had had a few conversations with my employer about the possibility of staying with them, after I finished my degree, and we agreed that this was a very real opportunity. It therefore came as a bit of a surprise to me that they still thought it was a good idea that I go on exchange. In fact, they encouraged me to do so.
Seen from my employer’s perspective, this must mean that the costs they incur from losing an employee, who knows the routines, and who could spend another half-year gaining experiences that could be used in further employment with them, as well as the costs of finding a replacement employee, are all outweighed by the benefits. But which benefits exactly?
The value of diversity
In the last century, it has become more and more clear to businesses around the world that diversity is valuable. A wide range of backgrounds, experiences, genders, races, and values strengthen businesses. If you study business you are probably told this on a weekly basis. Diversity simply leads to better ideas. But have you ever thought of what that means to you as an individual? Before going on exchange, I hadn’t given this much thought. What can make an individual more diverse?
It has become clear to me that my employer seems to know what can make an individual more diverse. My employer is clearly of the opinion that exchange is a great way to gain experience that they find useful. I will be returning from exchange with new insights, views on different issues, a larger network, and new ways of doing things. Put simply, I as an individual will return to my employer as a more experienced, more diverse individual, and this has major benefits to them. In fact, the benefits this has to them, must outweigh the aforementioned costs, or they wouldn’t have encouraged me to leave (unless of course, they were trying to get rid of me, by sending me to the other side of the planet?).
Although the specific situation I am in probably is unique, the lesson is universal: exchange gives a richness of experience that has value in the job market. Going on exchange will make an individual more interesting to employers and, by extension, will give that individual the opportunity to choose the job they want and remove them from the situation of taking whatever job is available.
I believe exchange gives a richness of experience and a richness of choice, and thus, I am getting rich on exchange! Only time will show if this richness will translate into richness of the monetary kind.
Exchange matters, not the university
On a closing note, after telling my employer that I in fact had decided to go on exchange they did not want any say in where I intended to go. What this told me was that it was the act of going on exchange that had a value to them – not the university I chose to go to. Whether it be an unknown university in the South of Europe or an Ivy League school somewhere in the US was of little importance to my employer. It is the act itself of going on exchange that offers life-experiences, not the university chosen or the subjects selected that seems to matter to them. Remember this, if you too are considering going on exchange – go to the place that you think will be most interesting, and then enjoy the experience!
There are three points to my disclaimer:
- Don’t actually sue me! I can’t afford for you to sue me, as going on exchange (especially to Australia) is ridiculously expensive! In the short term, there are of course large personal monetary expenses to going on exchange. I however, choose to see these cash outflows as part of an investment – one that I expect will give me a long term pay-off (much like taking a degree is an investment with a long-term pay-off).
- The benefits exchange will give you towards building your career are not the only benefits to going on exchange. Other benefits, just to mention a few, are meeting new people and making new friends, experiencing a new country and new culture, studying different courses than what is available to you at your home university, and living a more free life than the one you live at home. I will be writing more about these benefits and experiences in future blog posts, so tune in!
- There is a term frequently used in economics: ceteris paribus, which is Latin for “holding other things constant“. I don’t wish to imply with the above blog post that I am so naïve as to think that having gone on exchange will get you to an interview for every job you apply for. I merely wish to imply that it is an additional experience that can be used to strengthen your CV. Should you ever be in the situation where you and your experiential twin with the exact same CV as you on all counts except that you have gone on exchange both apply for the same job: then your chances for getting that job should be higher…ceteris paribus.
Until next time,