Returning from your study abroad experience can be difficult (check out the rest of the "Returning Home" section for more help with the reintegration process), but it also marks the beginning of your new and improved life at home. It doesn't matter if you studied abroad for major/elective credits or if you worked, interned, or volunteered abroad – your international experience can positively impact your future career or application to a graduate program in one way or another.
Here are some resources to help you best integrate your study abroad experience into your future career.
- Check out "Connecting Study Abroad to Your Career" to learn how to view your experience abroad from a professional standpoint.
- Meet with a career advisor in the Pomerantz Career Center to determine how to best market your experience to future employers.
Editing Your Resume/CV and Cover Letter
Study abroad has assuredly taught you many skills, cultural lessons, and ways to exist and operate within a global context, though it might be difficult to effectively translate that onto your resume. Your resume (and cover letter) are the first impression your future employers will have of you, so it's important to make sure you make it a good one. Generally, international experiences are viewed positively by employers, but it's best to effectively convey why your experience makes you a great candidate for the position.
Here are some tips to help you record your study abroad experience on professional documents.
Be sure to list your study abroad experience in the appropriate section of your resume or CV.
- If it was a study program, consider listing the program in your education section rather than under the activities or experiences section.
- If the experience included an internship, list it as a professional experience rather than as an activity.
- If you did an internship/work program but the work was not particularly related to your intended profession, list it under work experience, but concentrate on the cultural aspect of it.
- If your resume includes a section for skills or proficiencies, include specific skills acquired or improved upon while abroad (languages are usually good to include here).
For more help building your resume/CV, meet with a career advisor in the Career Center.
Cover letters are specifically geared toward the position for which you are applying, which will make it easier to explain how your experiences abroad have informed and will continue to inform your work in that position. These questions may help you narrow your focus. List specific examples as often as possible.
- How does your experience abroad relate to this field?
- What are some transferrable skills?
- How might your international experience uniquely benefit a professional in this field?
For more help developing a strategy to address study abroad in your cover letter, meet with a career advisor in the Career Center.
More tips for including study abroad experiences on your resume/CV and cover letter can be found on StudyAbroad.com's career information page.
Interviews provide the perfect opportunity for you to further delve into your international experience and to best highlight your new skills and knowledge.
Consider sharing examples of how:
- You set priorities to achieve a desired outcome in your study abroad experience.
- A situation helped you build your understanding of human motivation, leadership, and teamwork.
- Your international experience has improved your skills in communication with others.
- You resolved a conflict or solved a problem, and what personal skills/qualities you used in that situation.
Developing and practicing these responses prior to the real interview is a good idea. If you're having trouble organizing your thoughts into a good interview story, start with this simple format:
- Why you chose your program
- A story that illustrates a skill being learned/used
- A few sentences about how that skill is transferrable to this specific job
Building a Personal Brand/Network
Everyone has a personal brand, which is used to help market oneself to potential employers and to make connections within your career community. They are perhaps our most important marketing tool. Even when you're not actively seeking out the next job opportunity, it can still be helpful to build your personal brand and to understand how your study abroad experience fits into it.
Here are some ways to incorporate your international experience into your personal brand/network:
- Use the information provided on this page to market your study abroad experience to employers/others in your field.
- Consider the ways in which studying abroad has changed you. Did your goals/career path/cultural awareness/etc. change in any way?
- If you ran a blog during your time abroad, promote it on social media and use it as an archive for shareable experiences.
- Keep in touch with those you connected with abroad via email, LinkedIn, etc. Take advantage of those international connections!
- Edit your LinkedIn profile to reflect your experiences abroad. (If you do not yet have a LinkedIn profile, here are LinkedIn's tips on getting started.)
- Share your experiences with others via travel blogs/sites, such as Transitions Abroad, or even by word of mouth. Each time you share those experiences, you are promoting your brand.