You've had an amazing experience abroad and now it's time to think about your next step.
Whether you decide to start a job search (either in the United States or abroad), apply to graduate school, or simply take some time off, it will be helpful to be able to articulate the lessons and skills you learned abroad and incorporate these into your resume or c.v. and cover letters.
According to a study done by the Career Services and Placement Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University, employers associate resourcefulness and adaptability with having studied or interned abroad.
Underscore those and other qualities you developed abroad by incorporating them into your application materials – and eventually into your interview conversations. Here are some tips for refining that story:
- If you completed a Co-curricular Learning Certificate project, pull it out. Revisiting those reflections on your out-of-class experiences could trigger useful fodder for your anecdotes about what you learned abroad and how those lessons have prepared you for the next step on your career path. (And make sure earning your CLC is on your resume!)
- Work on moving your study abroad storylines from “I loved it and it was amazing!” to “it opened my eyes to… and I am now better prepared to… and when faced with challenges abroad I… and here are some ways my experiences abroad equipped me to handle a variety of situations… and it gave me a stronger sense of my own potential.”
What follows is a list of skills typically acquired through a study abroad experience (you will undoubtedly be able to add more!).
Be sure to highlight these and other qualities and skills in your resume. It may also be helpful to think of a specific instance or situation you were in that demonstrates the particular skill or quality.
Skills and Abilities Associated with Study Abroad:
- Understand cultural differences and similarities
- Ask thoughtful questions
- Learn through listening and observation
- Establish rapport quickly
- Adapt to changing circumstances
- Manage ambiguity comfortably
- Make smooth "transitions"
- Take Initiative
- Take risks
- Manage time amidst competing demands
- Accept responsibility
- Offer creative ideas and solutions
- Seek continuous learning opportunities
- Communicate despite barriers
- Learn quickly
- Handle stress and difficult situations
- Organize and prioritize work
- Lead others in formal/informal groups
- Conduct research despite language and cultural differences
- Cope with rejection
- Take ownership of projects
- Work independently
- Use an open-minded approach
- Asserting oneself
- Taking action with confidence
- Establishing clear-cut goals and objectives
- Seek achievement
- Respond to hardship and adversity with a positive outlook
- Make efficient use of resources
- Establish relationships across differences