Marketing Your Study Abroad Experience
The Internet is full of testimonials from students who have enrolled in coursework abroad and came away from the experience not only with broader perspectives, but also with marketable skills.
Keep reading to learn about some of the perks of studying away from home and get pointers on how to use them when speaking to a potential employer.
- Improve Your Foreign Language Skills
Studying abroad immerses you in another culture, and often means you have no choice but to read, speak and understand a non-native language. Some statistics indicate almost 35 percent of students who studied a foreign language abroad still used that language at least twice a week upon returning home.
How to Use It: Many companies, especially multinational ones with customer call centers, have a constant need for people who can speak multiple languages. If your study abroad experience has taught you to speak another language, highlight that on your resume. If you’re feeling bold, respond in another language then they ask you about it during your interview.
- Be More Culturally Diverse
People who spend most or all of their lives in one place risk becoming ethnocentric, rather than remembering that people from other cultures may live very different, but still enriched, lives. According to data from the American Institute for Foreign Study, over 90 percent of people who studied abroad reported the experience had an impact on their understanding of another culture.
How to Use It: Companies often encourage or mandate employees to take cultural awareness training, especially immediately prior to expanding to international markets. Studying abroad may not eliminate that requirement at your workplace, but if you can demonstrate that your time in another country made you more aware of other cultures, it could put you ahead of the pack.
- Enjoy Better Emotional Stability and Openness
A study found that students who studied abroad had higher levels of emotional stability and openness. It looked at statistics from over 1,000 students, and that data held true when compared with people in a control group, even when personality differences were taken into account.
How to Use It: The researchers discovered students who studied abroad became more extroverted, and were better able to handle new situations or challenges. All those characteristics are advantageous for candidates associated with almost any open job position. If you’re able to present yourself as extroverted and well-adjusted in a job interview, it could help you stand out from other interviewees.
Prepare for a Career with an International Dimension
Maybe you’d love to be the person at a company who arranges visits from international clients, or want to be the director of communications who acts as a liaison between workers at international branches. Both of those aspirations, and others like them, may be more within your grasp after studying abroad.
One academic paper reported that 73 percent of respondents who studied abroad are now working in positions that have international or multicultural aspects.
How to Use It: If you’re eyeing a position that would require you to interact with people from other countries on a regular basis, your study abroad experience will be a benefit. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you have prior experience communicating with people from other cultures, even if your time abroad wasn’t part of a career.
There’s a big difference between researching cultural differences and actually getting first-hand experience. If you’re having trouble expressing those benefits in an interview, consider a credential evaluation, which will help employers fully understand what makes you well-equipped to work with people from other countries.
- Show You Have the Skills Employers Want
The European Union’s Erasmus program enables thousands of students to study abroad. More than 85 percent of them take part to gain skills that will make them more employable abroad. Fortunately, it tends to pay off. An Erasmus study showed 92 percent of employers look for job candidates who have transversal skills, such as problem solving abilities, curiosity and confidence. Studying abroad makes you more likely to increase those traits.
How to Use It: Transversal skills are sometimes better showcased by things you do rather than things you say. With that in mind, give specific examples of how you problem solved in other countries. Also, when an interviewer asks if you have any questions, make sure to have at least one to ask. Being inquisitive shows you’re interested and engaged.
- Participate in Life-Changing Activities
Studying abroad gives you opportunities to do things that might not be possible in your home country. Seize those moments, whether it means you help provide relief after a natural disaster or teach English.
Studying abroad, like most other things in life, is all about what you make of it. Some people treat time abroad as a vacation and are content to do little more than celebrate. But you can choose to do things that benefit yourself as well as others.
How to Use It: When discussing your time abroad in an interview or within your resume, focus on the things you did that enhanced your life or helped you gain new skills. Often, doing something that changes your life forces you to step boldly outside of your comfort zone.
Employers appreciate people who made the most of studying abroad. When an interviewer realizes you were an asset during your time abroad – and did more than the ordinary or non-meaningful activities – he or she will likely view you as a potential asset to the company.
Studying abroad doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a great job, but it boosts your chances. When you’re committed to proving to employers that studying abroad provided advantages you couldn’t get elsewhere, it’s more likely you’ll not only land a career, but land one that’s fulfilling and worthwhile.