Trying to write about your study abroad experience on your resume? Or are you interested in going back? Read about work, volunteer and academic opportunities abroad.
How can you market yourself using your study abroad experience? What opportunities are available to continue in an international field? Below you'll find information on integrating your international experience in the job search or on graduate/professional school applications.
Global competency is a key to success in today's job market. It is imperative to be "globally ready" to compete in a demanding, constantly changing global economy. You should be ready to take stock of your experiences and understand how to translate these into tangible evidence of your competencies both on your cover letter and resume as well as during an interview.
A Michigan State University Recruiting Trends report identified "geographic awareness and global understanding" as the primary "new competencies [for job seekers] critical to future success." The report notes that, as businesses become realigned globally, having employees with an awareness of space, social and cultural geographic movement, and dominant physical assets of a region will be critical to a company's vitality.
Define and describe qualities reinforced by the study abroad experience and how they are applicable to the job or graduate/professional program, such as:
These are all transferrable skills. They are not limited to any one academic discipline or field of study, but are transferable to many occupations. These skills are highly sought-after by employers.
Consider how your cross-cultural experience has developed or strengthened particular skills and attitudes. What have you learned from your experiences and how did they change you? You can ask yourself the following questions to begin to identify some of the international and cross-cultural knowledge, skills and experience you possess.
Carefully read the job description for your desired position. What specific skills are mentioned and what can you pull from your cross-cultural experience to strength your case? Make a list of your transferable skills and the job qualifications, and then match them, being sure to highlight these in your resume, cover letter, and interview.
Regardless of your career goals, be sure to include details about your intercultural experience, language abilities, work experience with international organizations, volunteer work/research abroad, or coursework with global aspects.
Think about skills you gained and what you learned. Make the connection to the job description for the employer, as it won't always be obvious.
To effectively present an international experience on your resume and in your cover letter, ask yourself the following questions:
In addition to addressing the questions above, there are several ways that you can emphasize your international experience on a resume:
You can - and should - always find a relevant way to incorporate your study abroad experience into an interview. In many ways this sets you apart from your peers, bringing a different skill set and outlook to a potential employer. As a study abroad returnee, you have developed a tremendous number of transferable skills during your study abroad experience.
Think of examples and specific stories related to your experiences abroad that best highlight your newly acquired skills and demonstrate your ability to:
Some questions may specifically relate to study abroad:
Students have a number of opportunities to live and work abroad in the years following graduation, including fellowships and scholarships, work or volunteer abroad opportunities, or through established service programs like the Peace Corps!
Often students who have studied abroad as an undergraduate may also want to pursue graduate school abroad. Internationally-focused graduate opportunities can be found through resources such as:
Although Tulane Study Abroad does not administer or advise for outside volunteer or work abroad opportunities or endorse any particular programs or organizations, there are numerous international opportunities available outside of Tulane-sponsored activities. Students may choose to volunteer, intern, teach, or work abroad over the summer or after graduation. Please note: Tulane Study Abroad recommends that students carefully evaluate and vet any program offering volunteer, work or teach abroad experiences to assure a safe and high quality experience. Opportunities can be found via websites, search engines and databases such as:
Sources: Packaging Your International Experience (Kimberly Larsson, AbroadView, 2008); Effective Marketing of International Experiences to Employers (Cheryl Matherly); AIFS Student Guide to Study Abroad & Career Development (Martin Tillman, 2011); A View from LanguageCorps, Founding Partner Jed Willard: What is Global Competency? (NAFSA Global Workforce Development, 2009); Taking stock of your international experience (Grace Kutney, Sweet Careers Consulting).