2018 Volume 48 Pages 35-52
The aim of this study is to evaluate the overseas experience of university students and its impact upon their career choices as influenced by current Global Human Resources Development Policy. By comparing overseas university experience with that of returnee students who lived abroad before and during high school, the study also aims to illuminate the significance of short-term study abroad during undergraduate years. The study is based on semi-structured interviews with 22 students who studied abroad as undergraduates, and 16 students who lived abroad from childhood and entered a Japanese university. From the interviews of the study-abroad students, we found several competencies and skills that were developed through study abroad experiences such as adaptability, communicative skills, intercultural understanding, and, as well, expectations for a global career in the future. On the other hand, these students expressed a lack of confidence and complained about the limits of short-term study abroad programs. When hunting for jobs in Japanese companies, they experienced difficulty adapting to the culture and hiring process. The cause may be attributed to these students’ exposure to the ways of thinking and career expectations of university-level host country students.
Like study-abroad students, returnee students developed similar competencies from overseas experience and also aspired to a “global career.” However, they differed in that they showed strong identification as returnees and their global competencies were positively viewed during the hiring process.
Compared to the returnee students, the long-term impact of the experiences of those who studied abroad on career opportunities may be weaker, due to Japanese companies’ underestimation of their study-abroad experience. The study suggests the need for Japanese companies to appreciate the gains of study-abroad students and encourage them to take advantage of their overseas experiences.