You've studied abroad - now what?
Studying abroad sets you apart. Amongst the thousands of college graduates applying for jobs each spring, you’ve got an advantage.
Taking classes at a foreign university, staying with a host family, traveling solo, and living life in another language? You’ve been developing skills that employers love.
Yet, most students are unsure how to emphasize this experience on their resume, to catch an employer’s eye at your first form of contact. We’ve spoken to career advisor, Alisa Johnson, to get you the inside scoop on how to put your abroad experience into action:
"Studying abroad gives you skills that apply to all different career paths," says Alisa. It's about knowing how and when to use this experience that sets you apart.
1. Know your skill set
Studying abroad gives you valuable “transferable skills,” says Alisa, director of the career center at Colby College. These skills, such as decision-making, effective communication, the ability to adapt to new environments, and cross-cultural competency, are important to highlight.
“Employers are looking for people who can work on global teams,” and having abroad experience, even for one semester, can demonstrate your ability to interact in diverse environments.
2. Put it on your resume
Your resume is your first impression to a potential employer. To make a case for why you’re the best candidate at this preliminary phase, be sure to include your study abroad experience in your education section. Include the university, program title, and semester(s) spent abroad, to begin to emphasize your time abroad right from the start.
3. Separate yourself from the crowd
One of the best ways to set yourself apart in the job search is to demonstrate initiative. Complete an internship abroad? Volunteer? Conduct an individual research project? Putting those projects on your resume can really distinguish your independence, passion, and desire to be involved and engaged beyond the classroom.
4. Prepare to talk it up
The interview stage of a job search is crucial to selling yourself and your experience. Yet, too often the typical interview questions don’t specifically ask about your abroad experience. That’s where you come in!
Alisa recommends students “prepare to incorporate transferable skills in your answers to interview questions.”
Abroad experience can be a great way to answer questions about problem-solving, perseverance, leadership, and working with others.
5. Keep your cool
Alisa’s final advice to students and young professionals on the job search is to “take a deep breath and know that it’s a process” (thanks Alisa!)
The average job search takes about 6-8 months, including crucial steps like editing and refining your résumé, researching employers, interviewing, and finding the position that’s really right for you.
“If at month 2 or 3, you haven’t gotten a job yet, it’s absolutely okay.”
When you know how to sell yourself and your experience, you’re on the path towards finding not only any career, but one that will allow you and your talents to shine.
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