So you’ve studied abroad. You have navigated foreign streets and public transportation systems, figured out how to create meals from the strange selection available at the local grocer, adapted to surprising academic expectations and unfamiliar classrooms environments. You battled through homesickness, saw a million new places, and made memories you will never, ever forget. Now what?
Towards the beginning of the semester, the study abroad department teamed up with Career Services to host an information session for students returning from an education abroad experience. Studying in a foreign country can be amazingly enjoyable, but you’re also bound to pick up some practical skills along the way. A representative from Career Services discussed the numerous ways to sell this experience as an asset to future employers.
One of the most important things I learned from this presentation is always to list your time abroad on your resume. Even if the work being pursued is strictly domestic, employers will see that you have experience being self-sufficient in uncomfortable situations and navigating unusual circumstances. If the experience gave you the opportunity to strengthen your foreign language skills, this should also be included. You may not use your secondary language every day in the workplace, but listing it on your resume lets employers know that you are sensitive to the subtle differences that occur in communication, even between different English-speaking areas. Furthermore, if your employer knows that you possess these language skills, they will turn to you first if they ever need someone to work with or in an area that speaks that language.
While one’s resume is a great place to introduce study abroad, the best place to describe the particular benefits to prospective employers is during an interview. Everyone has a different experience and only you are able to tie the struggles you overcame to the challenges you will be prepared for in the workforce. Consider your potential workday and generalize the obstacles you will face. In all likelihood, you’ve handled a similar situation before.