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Being able to work across cultures is an increasingly necessary skill for graduates to impress employers in the competitive job market. Building intercultural competence while studying at university will benefit your career in the future. What is intercultural competence, and what are the opportunities to build these skills? Follow me to discover more!

What is intercultural competence?

Intercultural competence is the ability to function effectively across cultures, think and act appropriately, and communicate and work with people from different cultural backgrounds – at home or abroad. Research shows that international competence is a lifelong process of learning about other cultures, values, and customs and cannot be acquired in a short period of time.

According to Deardorff (2006), there are three constituent elements of intercultural competence: knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

Having these skills and knowledge will help students be more flexible, adaptable, and empathetic in working environments. It also contributes to individual personal growth, behaviour, and communication styles.

Why is it essential for students to have intercultural competence?

In an increasingly globalised world, having intercultural competence will be a valuable asset for graduates who want to work for international companies or organisations. By doing this, students can broaden their skills and knowledge by going out of their comfort zone and helping shape their career success. Employers are looking for graduates who have good performances, work well in a team, and go above and beyond their work. Having a degree would not be enough in this competitive job market.

Moreover, if you want to look for opportunities to rotate to different positions in different countries, gaining intercultural competence can help you stand out to employers. Taking steps to build these skills and knowledge will show employers that you are a strong candidate who consistently strives to improve yourself and your employability.

Opportunities to gain intercultural competence at Bournemouth University

Students studying at Bournemouth University have access to lots of workshops, guest lectures, and talks with international speakers. The university also offers a number of funding for student exchange activities and overseas work placement. For example, the Turing Scheme funded traineeships globally, or the Erasmus+ fund can help you cover some of the expenses incurred by undertaking an overseas traineeship in Continental Europe. You can search for opportunities on MyCareerHub. There are also many volunteering opportunities, or simply learning a foreign language is also a great way to gain intercultural perspectives about different cultures in the world.

Ultimately, having an open mind and learning about new cultures will help us make the most of our student experience at BU. I hope you find this article helpful, and this will motivate you to go out there and explore the world while studying at Bournemouth University.

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