Study Abroad and Job Outlook – How to leverage your study abroad experience in an interview to land the position

Anyone who studied abroad knows the experience is truly life-changing. Living and studying abroad helps you develop and test your abilities on the deepest level.

Although studying abroad is an incredible life experience, very few U.S. college students are able to make the trip. Only 1 percent of U.S. students studied abroad during the 2012 to 2013 academic year. This is understandable, considering the potential cost and time commitment of studying abroad.

Since so few students have the opportunity to study abroad, this experience can be a great resume booster or an additional area to draw upon when answering interview questions.

Resume Essentials
Although study abroad experience makes you more marketable in the U.S., you must communicate the experience on paper as it pertains to a job you want.

Some things to highlight on your resume about your study abroad experience include:

  •      Language skills. It’s one thing to have studied a language for several years, and another to have actually lived in a country that speaks the language. Even if you went to another English-speaking country, familiarity with different sayings or spellings can be helpful when marketing yourself.
  •        Global work/internship/volunteer experience. There is a common misconception that studying abroad is actually partying abroad. It is easiest to battle this stigma by showing that you have actual work or volunteer experience during your time abroad. Additionally, this is a good way to show that you are passionate about getting involved and immersing yourself in the local culture.
  •        Blogging experience. Study abroad blogs are great for multiple reasons. Not only do you have the chance to chronicle your experiences and growth, but a blog is the perfect opportunity to show your personality to potential employers. Including your blog on your resume allows employers to get to know your personality and assess your writing skills.

Interview Success
Making yourself look good on paper and then delivering on that in an interview are two very different skillsets. After you land an interview, it is important to review key points you would like to emphasize about yourself as an applicant.

This is another great opportunity to incorporate your study abroad experience, and expand on points you may or may not have included in your resume.
In particular, try to:

  •       Emphasize your adaptability. It is not easy to move across the globe and adjust to a completely different culture. It is important to mention how you were able to adjust to the changing environment and work with a diverse range of new people..
  •        Connect your experience with the company. Many companies operate internationally. With appropriate background research on the company you are interviewing with, you can find potential ways to connect your study abroad location with one of the company’s locations or clients. Someone interviewing you may even have travelled to that same location, and that is an easy way to build a lasting bond.
  •      Focus on your accomplishments. Studying abroad is full of challenges, and interviewers love to hear that candidates are able to overcome problems. When possible, turn a struggle into an accomplishment to convey your perseverance.

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Infographic Credit: Course Hero

by Alek Irvin, account executive

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