Could your international experience be the icing on the cake?
You've returned home from studying abroad, and you feel stronger and wiser. You probably have many insights in the world that others who have not spent an extended period abroad do not have. You might also be conscious of a wider set of ideas about your discipline, about the work place, and even about humanity. Your study abroad experience provides you with strengths and a vision that are almost unattainable under circumstances other than living abroad.
When speaking to domestic or international employers, it is crucial to develop ways to market your international experience to help you get the job that you desire. Articulating your skills and traits that you have acquired will enhance your ability to compete as a top job candidate. Here are some tips and links to sites to help you get started.
What types of skills and attributes are developed through studying abroad?
The skills and attributes gained while studying abroad are as diverse and varied as each individual's study-abroad experience. The following list, from Ball State University, offers examples of skills often developed through living in other countries:
Communication skills (including listening and overcoming language barriers)
Foreign language skills
Global point of view, appreciation of diversity, tolerance, cultural awareness, and sensitivity to customs and cultural differences
Flexibility and adaptability
Motivation and initiative
Organizational and time-management skills
Ability to identify, set, and achieve goals
General travel and navigational skills
Problem-solving and crisis-management skills
Patience Independence, self-reliance, and responsibility
Open-minded and observant
Tips for Success
You should include your study abroad experience on your resume, and refer to it in your cover letter, portfolio, and job interviews.
When writing a good cover letter, it is important to match your skills and abilities to the needs of the employer. Use the cover letter to highlight one or two of your top skills or attributes when referring to your travel experience.
Be prepared to situate the general environment of the school you attended while abroad.
Be prepared to speak about the specific cultural traits of your new study abroad host country nationals and intercultural skills.
With language skills, indicate the level of reading, writing, and speaking skills you have acquired.
Recognize the value of the general skills you developed while abroad.
Be professional in describing your study abroad experience. Avoid shocking stories, bizarre tales, or misadventures.
Use the language of your future work. Avoid using too many names and titles that will be foreign to your prospective employer. Avoid detailed geographical descriptions.
In dealing with international employers, don't mix personal goals with career goals. Never announce to potential international employers that your career goal is to live in Paris or to travel extensively in Asia. Employers want to hear about goals that match their skill requirements.
In dealing with employers with no international experience, do not overstate or dwell on your re-entry adjustment problems, demonstrate your business focus and avoid wearing souvenir clothing or jewelry.
Keep an eye out for upcoming workshops about marketing your study abroad experience!