How to Market Your Study Abroad Experience
Among the many benefits of studying abroad, your international experience will attract employers and will be an asset to your job search. You should include this experience on your résumé, and perhaps refer to it in your cover letter, portfolio, and job interviews.
Experiences in other countries offer opportunities for personal growth and exploration as well as the opportunity to build valuable skills and traits that will enhance your ability to compete as a top job candidate. However, you need to communicate the impact and value of your experience to potential employers.
What Types of Skills and Attributes are Developed through Studying Abroad?
The skills and attributes gained while studying abroad are as diverse and varied as each individual's study-abroad experience. The following list offers examples of skills often developed through living in other countries:
- communication skills (including listening and overcoming language barriers)
- foreign language skills
- global point of view, appreciation of diversity, tolerance, cultural awareness, and sensitivity to customs and cultural differences
- flexibility and adaptability
- motivation and initiative
- organizational and time-management skills
- ability to identify, set, and achieve goals
- general travel and navigational skills
- problem-solving and crisis-management skills
- independence, self-reliance, and responsibility
Where Should I Include Study-Abroad Experience on My Résumé?
Ways to incorporate your experience on your résumé vary. Here are some general guidelines to help you get started:
- If you participated in a study program and attended classes abroad, you can list the experience in your “Education” section.
- If you gained practical work experience while abroad, such as an internship, part-time job, or practicum, you can list it in a “Work Experience,” “Internship Experience,” or “Career-Related Experience” category.
- You can also include study- and work-abroad programs in a separate category titled “International Experience,” “International Education,” etc. This option may be the most appropriate if you've had multiple experiences abroad.
- Be sure to include accomplishment statements and mention the key skills you developed through these experiences.
Should I Discuss My Study-Abroad Experience in My Cover Letter or during Job Interviews?
The key to writing a great cover letter and preparing for a job interview is to match your skills and abilities to the needs of the employer.
In most cases, international experience will be attractive to employers — you will need to determine what skills will enable you to sell yourself best.
Use your cover letter to highlight one or two of your top skills or attributes and refer to your travel experience if appropriate. Your cover letter should spark employers’ interest and direct them to your résumé for additional information about your qualifications.
As you get ready for job interviews, prepare stories that highlight your skill set and reflect on several experiences from your past, including studying abroad.
What if I need additional help?
The Career Center offers resources to help you develop your résumé, cover letter, and portfolio, as well as prepare for job interviews.
For assistance, please visit the Career Center during drop-in advising hours, or visit the Career Center’s website to access tip sheets, helpful websites, and other job search resources.
Use the Career Center’s services.