American companies increasingly invest dollars abroad while similarly multinational companies invest in the United States as well as the international market. Your experience living and studying abroad, negotiating daily life through a different cultural lens, and acquiring foreign language skills will set you apart from the majority of job applicants.
However, while studying abroad may give you the edge to score an interview, it isn’t the surefire way to score the job -- being able to effectively communicate the skills and lessons you learned while abroad is key! Take advantage of the opportunities on campus – through the Career Development Center and the Office of Study Abroad – to help you articulate the skills you cultivated abroad.
Consider the following tips to help you market your experience to potential employers:
Attend a career-building workshop before you graduate college
For resume review and cover letter development, mock interviews, and other activities designed to help you identify and articulate the skills you learned abroad, check theU of A Calendar for upcoming workshops or contact the Career Development Center for one-on-one assistance.
Manage your online presence
Google yourself. Does your search reveal anything potentially concerning to employers? Manage your social media accounts – including not only Twitter and Facebook, but also Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, and your blog. Finally, consider leveraging your professional career using LinkedIn.
Spell out skills in your resume and cover letter
Use action verbs to highlight your skills and past employment responsibilities. To help you with the brainstorming process, consider the following suggestions:
- Self-motivated, willing to embrace challenges
- Flexible and adaptable, able to cope with diverse problems and situations
- Creativity, resourcefulness, initiative, tenacity, willing to take risks
- Ability to handle ambiguity
- Global awareness, tolerance, cultural sensitivity
- Communication skills, foreign language skills (listening and communicating carefully to overcome language barriers)
- Inquisitiveness, open-mindedness
Prepare for your interview
Spend time reflecting on your experience, and be prepared to give insightful comments about your international experience at any time during the interview. Consider stories that highlight new skills and knowledge from your experience abroad. Specifically:
- Identify an example of how you set priorities to achieve a desired outcome.
- Share a travel situation that helped build your understanding of human motivation. How did this situation enhance your understanding of leadership or teamwork?
- How did you adapt to your new cultural surroundings? Share specific examples from academic and social settings. How did this influence your ability to interact successfully with others?
- What was the most significant thing you learned about yourself through your study abroad experience? Why?
- Share an example of how your experience has improved your communications skills with others. How might this make you a better professional in your field?
Participate in the Professional Development Institute (PDI)
The Career Development Center’s PDI program is geared toward “enhancing students’ professionalism and empowering students to present themselves successfully as candidates for employment or for graduate schools.” Further, consider spiffing up your resume with a PDI Global Awareness Specialization.
Selected excerpts courtesy of Linda Gross, Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2003