The business world has become increasingly globalized in recent years. Many employers are looking for employees that have a practical understanding of how to interact with other people of other cultures and who have international experience. Your off campus study, when utilized and explained appropriately in interview, resume, cover letters, and networking, can be an advantage in the job marketplace. Learning how to 'market' your study abroad experience can help you get a job (or get into graduate school) in the future!
Click here to see the slides from a recent Career Services presentation about marketing your off-campus study experience.
Placement: The best location for your study abroad experience depends on what you want to use it for. Most often it should fit under any Education section that you have created. It could also be used under sections for Research, Related Skills, Language Skills, or Work Experience, along with many others. When listing your program, make sure you mention one or two specific things that you gained from the program. That could be the chance to do independent research, opportunity to learn about another culture, or a chance to speak another language. It can also be helpful to state what kinds of skills you feel that you gained through your experience (i.e. flexibility/ adaptability, ability to solve complex problems, ability to interact harmoniously with a diverse group of people, better understanding of yourself, cross-cultural sensitivity, independence, tolerance, etc.).
Any research that you completed can also be highlighted if it is applicable. Explain what the title of the project was and where you completed it. Not all employers will want to see your research experience in this detail, but if it feels appropriate, give details about what the end result of the project was and what kinds of skills you learned during the process of said research.
Even if the job you are applying to does not highlight or recommend that you have international experience, it is always helpful to list the transferable skills that you gained off-campus that are applicable to the position.
A cover letter is similar to the resume in that it is a tool for showing yourself off and explaining why you are qualified for the position your are applying to. However, a cover letter is more of an explanation of how your experiences combine to make you an excellent candidate. Use your cover letters to explain what skills you learned off campus and how they combine with other parts of your life to ensure that you would do a great job.
Today, many of the questions asked in interviews are centered upon skills, strengths, and flaws. Whenever you are answering one of these questions, it is always a good idea to use an example to back up your claims. For example, if you are asked to list one of your greatest strengths, you might answer that you are a very good communicator, especially in delicate situations, and then discuss a time when you were off campus and were interacting with a friend whose native language was not English. Always approach an interview with a list of experiences (not exclusively from off campus study) that you can use to back up claims that you are a hard-working, intelligent, and thoughtful human being. You may be surprised by how many examples of personal strength you can find when you start pondering your experiences from off campus.
Working in International Education
Some students return from off-campus study interested in working in the field of International Education. You can find tips about getting into the field here.
If you want to know more about successfully utilizing an off campus study experience in your future career, contact Career Services!