To get the message across effectively, describe the skills you gained and provide justification for your claims.
Unpack yourself. Follow the instructions in this document and reflect on your study abroad. What were the most salient experiences for you? Often, it’s the difficulties you faced that make the best stories.
Tell the story in three parts:
- The problem you faced
- How you solved it
- The transferable skill you demonstrated or gained
“My friend and I were stranded on the outskirts of town late at night, after public transportation stopped running. We didn’t know that part of town and we didn’t speak the language, and my friend got really upset and started to panic. I helped him calm down, found a respectable-looking bar and went in to ask if they would call us a taxi, a word they understood. When the taxi came, I showed the driver the address of our residence that I kept with me, and we made it back in one piece. Having had this experience, I’m confident in my ability to deal with change in other high-pressure environments."
Resumes and Interviews
Employers are looking for people with good interpersonal and communication skills, flexibility, and the ability to cope with ambiguity and new situations—qualities often enhanced by study abroad. Set yourself apart with stories that illustrate how you developed the skills recruiters are looking for.
Your resume tells a story about you; have a reason for everything you include with an anecdote prepared to address their questions. Include your study abroad experience in the education section.
If you have a good story to tell about your study abroad, briefly describe the skills and experiences you acquired and how they are transferable to the position for which you are applying.
Articulate how your study abroad skills, experience and personality fit the needs of the organization and will enhance your job performance. Prepare answers for the following:
“Why did you decide to study in _______? How was your experience the same or different from your expectations, and how did you adapt?”
“Which study abroad accomplishments are you most proud of?”
“Why do you think you would be a good candidate for this job?”
Make sure you mention your study abroad experience at the right time during your interview, and make it relevant to the position for which you are applying. If the employer asks about your travels, highlight them as a skill-enhancing experience that provided valuable contacts. Answer that question only, being brief, focused, and clear in your response. If your employer doesn't bring up your study abroad experience, integrate it tactfully and specifically into your answers. Don’t get carried away, go off on a tangent or reminisce excessively.
Remember to explain that you have acquired exactly the specialized skills employers seek, and have proof of those skills from your successful study abroad. Above all, emphasize the flexibility, tolerance, and patience you may have learned.