Turn a Study Abroad Experience into a Resume Builder

by Barbara Jolie, frequent contributor to Online Classes

Turn a Study Abroad Experience into a Resume Builder
Turn a Study Abroad Experience into a Resume Builder

College students enroll in study abroad programs for a variety of reasons. Some want to improve their foreign language skills, others are excited about experiencing a different culture, and still others are looking for a change of scenery after spending several semesters at one academic institution. Whatever the reasons behind a student’s desire to study abroad, it’s important for faculty advisors to help them make the most of their experience.

While emphasizing personal growth, foreign language skills, and cultural understanding is valuable in its own right, faculty should also explain to students how they can turn their time spent overseas into an experience that adds substance to their resume. According to an Associated Content article, employers value candidates who have studied abroad as students. The article describes a survey of 119 employers conducted at the Career Center of the University of North Carolina. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that a study abroad or other overseas experience would be valuable in a potential employee’s experience at some point in their career within the organization.

Faculty can be catalysts for this future career-building opportunity by guiding their students to take their study abroad experience seriously and engage in their courses and the local culture as much as possible. As Stacie Berdan, author of “Get Ahead by Going Abroad: A Woman’s Fast Track Career Success”, noted in a Today’s Campus article:

“Employers want to know a student can usefully bring international experiences to work. If it was a fun three months in Rome, an employer may not be impressed… If a student studied Spanish in Madrid, Arabic in Cairo, or Japanese in Osaka, while also learning to navigate the culture with a part-time job, tutoring at a local primary school, or serving as a docent at a local museum or historic site, employers will be impressed. In fact, students who immerse themselves and enjoy a rich cross-cultural experience often go to the top of a company’s competitive list of future international transfers. Such stints overseas have catapulted many a career.”

During faculty-led study abroad programs, enhancing your students’ overseas experience outside the classroom can be accomplished by scouting out focused, extra-curricular opportunities for them. International volunteer and internship positions abound in many popular study abroad locations. Also, coaching students on how to articulate their study abroad experiences to potential employers will better prepare them for job interviews.

Of course, studying abroad is a valuable experience in and of itself. However, giving your students a career angle to think about as they study abroad can maximize the returns on their time spent overseas.

This guest post was written by freelance writer Barbara Jolie, who frequently contributes to online classes.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: barbara.jolie876@gmail.com.

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5 thoughts on “Turn a Study Abroad Experience into a Resume Builder

  1. That’s my thoughts exactly. I think more “service-oriented” study abroad programs add value to a persons resume. It not only helps the person’s resume but the local communities to which they are planning to study abroad and it creates huge impacts.
    I also think that international students who study here in the States have the opportunity to volunteer their time to our local communities as well whether its fundraising, serving at a local food bank, or administrating and collecting donations around the holiday season. All these look great on a resume but the local communities benefits from such acts of kindness and collectively, its a win-win situation. Giving always feels good.

  2. Hi
    I did my masters being an international student and it was a great experience. Love the study abroad concept!

  3. I’ve the privilege of doing my first degree abroad as well. It was a great experience to learn from other cultures and perspectives.

  4. I always dreamed of doing something like that. I never did but I wish I had. If there are any college students considering doing this let me just say that it becomes more difficult to do the things you dream about the older you get. Life gets busy – for me I have a family now and things have changed. Take the risk and experience the adventure now while you can. you will have much richer life experiences. you will be able to tell your children about your time abroad. You may never get another chance when you graduate and begin your career.

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