Study abroad is appealing to future employers.
As more students than ever before choose to spend a semester or gap year abroad, it is not enough to simply mention that you “traveled somewhere.” To stand out from the crowd, you must be able to articulate why your experience was valuable and how those skills pertain to your job. This doesn’t mean you need to include a five-page essay with every detail of your trip. Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple and succinct.
However you choose to highlight your experience, you should prepare to back up your resume points during a follow-up interview. It is helpful to take some time to sit back and reflect on your trip. How did your time abroad change you? What were some defining moments that influenced your outlook? Start by brainstorming an exhaustive list of the things you gained while abroad. Then pull out some of the things you feel are most important or most relevant to the job you are trying to get.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Did you travel for a study abroad, an internship, or a volunteer experience? Any of these can be a powerful component of your resume. Field experience in another country often teaches you how to operate in your profession with the added pressures of language barriers, cultural differences, or limited resources. These are all skills that translate well into your career at home!
It’s hard enough to manage your money when you are away from home. Add this to the confusion of currency exchange rates, and it’s likely you were forced to improve your finance and budgeting skills while you were abroad.
Language and communication
Did you pick up a foreign language while you were abroad? A second language is a huge resume boost. Even if it is not a language you would use regularly on the job, the mere process of learning a foreign language shows that you are intellectually motivated and skilled at communicating.
The ability to understand and appreciate other cultures is tremendously valuable in any career you choose to pursue. Whether you are in business, education, technology, or the medical field, it is important to have a well-developed understanding of the world beyond your front door. In what ways have your travels reshaped or broadened your views?
Traveling abroad requires us to step out of our comfort zones on a daily basis. Each day is a step further into the unknown, requiring you to rely on your instincts and problem-solving skills. This develops a great sense of self-confidence as we discover we are much more adaptable to new situations than we realized. Your experience navigating your way through a foreign country has probably helped you become more independent, decisive, and strategic. As you’ve said goodbye to familiar faces and pushed yourself to meet new friends, you may have developed into a more outgoing and compassionate person.
Your time abroad had a powerful impact on both your practical skills and personal development. Keep your experiences fresh by writing down your thoughts while you are there or as soon as you get home. Continue to seek out other opportunities abroad when possible — there is so much more to learn and experience!