Getting a Job After Study Abroad

January 30, 2013

So you’re back from study abroad. You took in the sights, drank in the culture, and discovered a whole new way of life…. but what did you bring back? Other than perhaps improving your fluency in a foreign language, figuring out what skills you’ve acquired during your globe-trotting adventures may not always be obvious. And yet, according to numerous studies, employers seek out new hires with study abroad experience. Some say as many as 73% of employers think study abroad is important when looking for junior-level employees!

How do you communicate how studying abroad transformed you into an office superhero? When reflecting upon your time overseas, think about how you can incorporate these five skills into your resume or a job interview:

  1. Independence. Knowing how to live on your own in a foreign country means that you don’t need someone to look after you or constantly hold your hand. Your new boss will be extremely grateful.
  2. Initiative. Not only are you self-sufficient and independent, but you also take that extra step to get the information you need or to create your own projects. And why not? Months of getting lost and asking for directions (in a foreign language, no less) and whipping up cross-continental travel plans indicate you’re not afraid to start things on your own. You’re not going to sit around and wait for someone else to do the work for you.
  3. Problem-solving. You unlocked the mystery of the Tokyo metro system and can successfully navigate a Chinese supermarket. Next to that, expense reports are a piece of cake. Who wouldn’t boast about problem-solving skills like yours?
  4. Flexibility. Study abroad requires a certain level of flexibility, whether it’s rearranging your shopping schedule in Spain to accommodate for the siesta or adjusting your French travel plans because public transportation workers are on strike. Whatever obstacles you’ve encountered, you have just learned to adapt to new situations as they present themselves — a true asset in the workplace.
  5. Cultural Sensitivity. This one should be obvious, but awareness of and respect for other cultures is crucial to office success. Spending time with locals from your host country as well as other international students gives you a unique perspective on global cultures, and the ability to relate with others from different countries.

In addition to providing you with valuable office skills, study abroad has perhaps inspired you to follow a specific career path. Whether you’re now pursuing a career in international education, international business, or professional globe-trotting, you can probably thank study abroad for pointing you in the right direction. And if you’ve got a success story about how studying abroad helped you land a job or find your true calling, we want to hear it! Tell us your story and submit a blog post here.

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