You had an amazing experience studying abroad. Now, you are back and starting the internship or job search. How do communicate the value of your study abroad experience to a potential employer? Communicating the value of your study abroad experience requires reflection and is a great opportunity to remember your experience abroad. Grab a notebook or your favorite note-taking app and let’s relive your experience!
Make a list of significant experiences you had while abroad. Be as specific as you can.
- Practiced French on a daily basis while navigating Paris
- Made friends with local French students and traveled throughout France.
- Interned with a French fashion design firm.
Reflect a little deeper on your listed experiences and identify what you learned or the skills you acquired as the result of your experiences
- Practicing French on daily basis helped me improve my French. As a result, I increased my proficiency in the language and can comfortably speak and write in French.
- Making friends with French students helped me learn more about the French culture and gave me an opportunity to explore our cultural similarities and differences. I can comfortably build relationships across cultures.
- Interning with a French fashion design firm provided me first hand exposure to the fashion industry. My specific role on the fashion show preparation team helped me enhance my organizational and communication skills. I also learned how to work under pressure and short deadlines.
Finally, identify the skills or knowledge gained that relate to the position you are seeking. Take some time to practice speaking about those experiences as they relate to your desired position.
If a position description is looking for a candidate who speaks French, you can speak about the first experience you listed about navigating Paris and improving your French. Perhaps the position description desires a candidate with cross-cultural competency, the second experience is a way to communicate your ability to build relationships across cultures. If the position desires professional experience, time management skills, or the ability to work under pressure, you can speak on the third experience as an intern with a French fashion design firm.
Employers desire globally aware employees, but merely saying you studied abroad isn’t enough. You need to be able to communicate the value and relevance of your experience abroad. Next time, when a potential employer asks you to tell them more about your study abroad experience you can say more than “it was great”.
For additional information on relating your study abroad experience to your future career check out the Study Abroad and Your Career section of the Returning Student Guide on UConn’s Education Abroad website. Additionally, visit the Center for Career Development for a practice interview, résumé critique, or review of your cover letter.
“Paris” by Juan Antonio Segal is licensed under CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jafsegal/8707161315/