Relating Your Study Abroad Experience to Employers

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Studying or interning abroad helps set you apart from your peers who haven’t. However, just putting your study abroad experience on your resume isn’t enough. To make yourself stand out during an interview, relate your experience abroad to the position you want.. Think about challenging situations you encountered. What kind of issues did you deal with abroad? How did you approach a challenging situation and find a creative solution?

Remember, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. When relating your experience abroad to a challenging situation, first you want to set up the context, next describe the action you took and finally explain the result. In order to prepare it can be helpful to brainstorm a list of ideas, write out your stories and then edit them so that you include the most pertinent details. Make a list 5-10 or more of your good experiences. Write a sentence or two describing how each experience relates to the job position. Focus on the positive outcomes of each experience. These experiences can come from any part of your life including school, sports, employment, personal relationships, etc. Cover all parts of your life from childhood to the present. Remember the definition of a Good Experience: 1) Something you excelled at; 2) Are proud of and; 3) Enjoyed doing.

Add a little diversity to the mix. In today's interconnected world where cultures converge many institutions and companies have renewed their emphasis on diversity and inclusion. As a result, many employers reward applicants who work well with people from diverse backgrounds and feel comfortable working in a dynamic environment. The greatest reward from your experience interning or studying abroad is its impact on developing your personality and interpersonal skills. Being exposed to a completely different culture may be challenging but also well compensated by your eye opening and life changing experiences. Here are a few key terms you may wish to highlight during your interview:

  • Fast learning and adaptation skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Well-developed communication skills
  • Outgoing personality
  • Foreign language skills
  • Organization skills
  • Tolerance for different opinions
  • Appreciation of diversity
  • Time management abilities
  • Patience
  • Observation skills
  • Confidence
  • Sense of humor
  • Independence and self-reliance
  • Global perspective
Lastly, remember to relax and just be yourself. There is no need to exaggerate your experiences. The key is not having the most fantastic story but being able to relate and connect your experiences to the job in an effective way that is appealing to the interviewer. Although you may have climbed Mt. Everest or hacked your way through the deep jungles of the Amazon, these experiences have little effect if you are unable to find tangible meaning in them that the interviewer can understand. Again, you are not there to impress but relate and connect.

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