Not all students know how to talk about their time overseas in a way that is meaningful to employers. The experience may have been “life-changing” to you, but that is hard for a potential employer to relate to in many cases. Students have to learn how to talk about that experience in terms of transferrable skills. As a potential employee, you need to ask yourself how your abroad experience relates to what your potential employer wants.
Being able to study abroad is an amazing opportunity, and one that 400 Luther students per year take advantage of. This experience may have been the most impactful experience in college, and you need to be able to communicate why to your employer.
When you go abroad, you are responsible for yourself. It’s much harder to call mom and dad every hour of every day. Going abroad shows you can problem-solve, you are responsible, and an independent person. These are key traits that employers look for, and the fact that you have evidence to support these traits will set you apart from other candidates.
As soon as you get abroad your whole world changes and you have to adapt and find a way to thrive in that new environment. Adaptability in the workplace is unavoidable, and being able to stress that you are able to adapt quickly and efficiently will appeal to your potential boss. As well as adaptability, simply taking that huge step and setting up your study abroad experience shows that you’re outgoing. You see something you want to do, and you go and get it. You’re leaving the comfort of your own school to spend time in a completely different environment
Perhaps one of the most unique skills you learn while abroad is sensitivity to other cultures and styles. Being able to interpret multiple perspectives shows you are ready for a company that is growing globally. Globalization means many companies are becoming multinational corporations, and even those that aren’t often work with companies based in different countries. So your experience in new countries could give you a leg up – maybe the employer viewing your resume has offices, partners, or clients in those countries. The point is the world is becoming increasingly interconnected, particularly across national borders, so the more experience you have with other countries the better.
How do you incorporate your study-abroad experience into your resume?
There are a few possibilities for where to list you study abroad experience. You could list the name of the program/institution in the "education" section of your resume, a “related experience” section, or if there are multiple abroad experiences, you could choose to include an “international experience” section. You could list relevant coursework and projects you may have worked on while you were an intern, volunteer, or student. However, not everyone wants to include study abroad in their resume. Your cover letter would also be an option to tell your employer what traits the experience has given you, let them know more about your personality, and how these traits relate to their company.