How to properly articulate your study abroad experience
By Rachael Kroot, Edited by Valeri Boyle
When I first returned from my semester in London, my friend Jamie asked me, “So… how have you changed?” It was a great question. Everybody who studies abroad inevitably comes back with new experiences and skills. But sometimes the change can be hard to pinpoint. Sure, you might feel more worldly and independent, but how do you put that on paper? More importantly, how do you convey that to your future employer?
Below are some resume examples to get you thinking in the right direction when it comes to showing potential employers what you’ve learned while studying abroad.
Personally, since my resume was already pretty full, I kept the study abroad information very simple. Under the “Education” section I added a bullet point to highlight my semester abroad.
University of Maryland Graduated May 2010
B.S. in Geography
Then, in the “Skills” section at the bottom of my resume, I chose to highlight all of the countries to where I’ve traveled.
Be careful when making a list like this. It was never my intention to come across as bragging; the point for me was simply to capture the employer’s interest (while still leaving room for all of my relevant work experience elsewhere on the page). For instance, when applying to a job at a travel agency, I thought it would be beneficial for them to see I had extensive travel experience outside of work. The same goes for jobs where you might encounter a variety of people when, let’s say, working in customer service. In many scenarios, it is more practical to explain the skills gained abroad, such as:
- Adaptability and flexibility in new situations
- Strong listening and communication skills
- Comfortable working with people from different cultures
If you have more room on your resume than I did, however, it can be extremely helpful to expand upon your experiences abroad even further. You might add a section like follows:
Semester Abroad in London Spring 2009
International Student House Resident Assistant Spring 2009
Independent Research Project Fall 2009
If you interned abroad, that would also be a great thing to add. An internship can go either in the “International Experience” section, or in a “Work Experience” section. Just make sure to highlight any major projects you worked on or any cultural experiences you would not have gained elsewhere. Study abroad is a unique experience that can set you apart from other job applicants. Use this to your advantage and you are sure to be called in for an interview in no time!
Rachael has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and studied abroad in London during the Spring of 2009.