Translating your Learning Abroad Experience to an Employer

Sure, your international experience was “Awesome!” and “Amazing!” and you “had the time of your life!” But how can you express the benefit of your experience to an employer? The Skills and perspective you gained from your international experience sets you apart from other students. Here’s how you can show that to employers.

Phrases to Emphasize Skills and Qualities from Learning Abroad

  • Adaptable to new environments
  • Appreciate diversity
  • Awareness of global issues
  • Flexibility and patience
  • Foreign language proficiency
  • Handle difficult situations
  • Inquisitive, curious, and open-minded
  • Self-confident and independent
  • Willing to take initiative

Related Action Verbs

Adapted Cooperated Developed Enhanced Exchanged Fostered Sure, your international experience was “Awesome!” and “Amazing!” and you “had the time of your life!” But how can you express the benefit of your experience to an employer? The Skills and perspective you gained from your international experience can set you apart from other students. Here’s how you can show that to employers. Immersed Improved Initiated Lived Managed Observed Organized Overcame Practiced Realized Represented Recognized Shared Traveled

Self-Reflection

Be prepared to give insightful comments about your experience at any time. How did your study abroad experience enhance your knowledge, skills, and understanding of your intended career field? What assets might international study yield as opposed to someone who studied domestically?

Share an example of a travel situation that helped build your understanding of human motivation.

How did this enhance your understanding of leadership or teamwork?

Résumé

Locate your intentional experience where it makes the most sense for your intended position. There are several correct ways to do this.

List the program in your education section if it was a study abroad program

If you held a job, internship, or volunteer position while abroad, you could list it in your relevant experience section

If the work you did abroad isn’t directly related to your intended career, list it as work experience but focus on the cross-cultural learning and skills gained.

Cover Letter

Think about how your experience relates to your field. Then develop a strategy to address this in your cover letter or résumé.

My experience living in Ecuador will enhance my ability to communicate and interact effectively with the local Latino population this position will work closely with. Studying in Brazil provided me unique insights into the country’s education disparities and ignited my passion for helping disadvantaged and underrepresented students with an organization such as yours. My studies in Japan provided me with great insight into the cultural differences that influence consumers in different countries and will improve my ability to contribute to international marketing initiatives.

Even if your career goals do not include a specific international dimension, you can promote the general transferable skills from your experiences such as independence, confidence, and problem-solving.

Networking and Interviews

If someone asks about your international experience, take it as an opportunity to expand. Don’t let the moment pass by with a simple “Yes, it was great!” Use the reflection questions to prepare specific examples of stories/responses in advance.

Did you learn to work with a more diverse group of people than you had previously been exposed to? Why did you choose the program? Did you engage in a new language, activity, hobby, or skill? Did you travel independently outside the formal program?

Be sure to use an appropriate balance of international and domestic examples depending on the position you are seeking.