Ayesha Afkaar, originally from Malè, takes a break from her studies at the International University of Malaya-Wales, Kuala Lumpur, to visit nearby city and UNESCO World Heritage Site Melaka, Malaysia.

By Laura Evans

“The current job market is a dystopia!” claimed one stranger on Twitter, followed by endless replies about how hard it is to look for a decent job nowadays. “Everyone pays so low but their expectations are so high. What can we do?!” replied another

With the job market as competitive as it is and such high demands placed on fresh graduates, it’s hard to disagree. Employers are placing more emphasis than ever on the skills, competencies, and experiences of the graduates they hire; and while they remain important, it seems academic achievements alone will no longer cut it. So how can graduates maximise their chances of landing a job that will launch their career right after university?

In a volatile job market, skills like adaptability, resilience, and the ability to be self-driven will grab a future employer’s attention. A great way to stand out from the crowd and truly develop the skills and experience sought after by most organisations is by choosing to study overseas. Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience for students. From enhancing their global network to experiencing a new culture, the benefits to their education and career are significant.

Ayesha Afkaar, originally from Malè, is currently studying a foundation programme at the International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW), based in Malaysia’s thriving capital city, Kuala Lumpur.

“I’ve had such a positive experience in Malaysia. I’m learning so much and really expanding my professional and social circle – it’s incredible. I’m currently organising a series of online webinars with industry experts from a variety of fields and from other countries – something we’ve planned around the current global pandemic.”

Students who study abroad benefit from a new, global perspective on their field of study. Seeing how issues are tackled differently by other cultures and how different ways of working affects teams is invaluable, especially if you have an aspiration to work in a global environment or in a country outside of your own.

There are over 100,000 international students based in Malaysia from all over the world. The expenditure of studying and living in Malaysia is comparatively lower than other countries like Australia, the United States, or Canada, yet there is a high standard and quality of education.

“The diverse multicultural background here provides a unique living experience where people of so many races and ethnicities coexist in a unified community. This is perfectly exemplified through the art, language and food – I really enjoy studying here!” Ayesha told us.

Students like Ayesha at IUMW also benefit from studying Dual Awards programmes, where graduates earn two degree certificates, one from IUMW and the other from University of Wales Trinity Saint David, IUMW’s partner institution and one of the most well-known universities in Wales, part of the United Kingdom. Students can choose from many fields of study including business, media and communications, psychology, computer science, and biotechnology. There is also the opportunity to participate in an exchange programme to study a semester at UWTSD, giving them even more valuable global exposure.

“It was a really exciting five months studying in Wales,” said Mas Shahira Aminuddin, who spent one semester at UWTSD as part of the Professional Communication programme at IUMW. “I worked with media professionals, experienced learning with UK academics, and by the end of the programme, I was able to produce a digital magazine independently!”

Mas Shahira is now a Graphic Designer cum Business Strategist at the company where she interned right after studying abroad. “I was lucky to start my career at the company where I did my internship not long after coming back from studying in Wales. I love my job, and I’m using so many of the skills I learned from studying at UWTSD and IUMW, it truly prepared me for the real world”.

Earning a globally recognised degree and benefitting from study experience abroad gives students so many advantages when looking to start their careers. The employability agenda demands that graduates have better social skills and the flexibility to respond to an unpredictable working environment. These kinds of skills are learned outside the four walls of a classroom; by putting yourself out there in situations that will promote personal growth to another level.

International experience is valued highly in today’s highly competitive global job market and it gives students like those at IUMW an edge, highlighting them from the millions of graduates produced every year.