How much international experience is necessary to enter into a graduate program?

Dear Nadine,

There are so many personal factors involved in career planning that it is difficult to answer your question, except to mention a few important high-level considerations: On the surface, it seems that a third semester abroad with the same organization would add little to your dossier. That said, if you are going for personal reasons, then by all means do so, you will certainly be expanding your international experience by carrying out a project in a new location. I would also recommend taking the opportunity if you have been offered a scholarship to do so. If you are paying your own way, however, I would suggest that you invest in another program or in personal travel and study (perhaps language study), to better enhance your qualifications in your field. Note that getting into a master’s program after recently graduating generally depends more upon grades than work experience, so you may not need to worry so much about expanding your international experience just for the program application. Some schools pay closer attention to experiences than others, so I’d advise you to network directly with a professor at your targeted school and ask his or her advice. You should also target a number of graduate schools so that you have multiple options. Having a look at our self-evaluation questions. THey may help you come to a decision about what you have achieved and what you still wish to achieve: Self-evaluation: Your International Internship (for registered users).

Hope this advice helps! All the best with your decisions.

Full question: 

Dear Mr. Hachey,
I was recently accepted into a program in Geneva through  SIT Study Abroad , and while I am very excited about the opportunity, I’m having a hard time trying to decide if this program is really going to help me stay on the career path I’ve set out for myself. Through this program, I will have the opportunity to work and research with a specific international multilateral organization during the fall semester. Before graduating from Boston University, I had lived and studied in France and Chile through SIT as well. My original thought was that this program in Geneva could provide me with additional experience abroad that I could then highlight when I re-apply to graduate school for the fall of 2010. At this stage in my career, do you feel that undertaking an additional program with SIT will do anything to increase my chances of either acceptance into a graduate program, or of landing in a career in this area?
Any advice you could offer would be hugely appreciated! MyWorldAbroad has been tremendously helpful to me so far in helping to sort out the next steps in my job search, and I’d welcome any input you might have.

Nadine, 27, Boston, Massachusetts