Study abroad experience can help you land a job after college because it gives you a unique advantage in the professional market. Employers seek motivated and experienced individuals, so the skill sets they look for align with what you learned on your international academic journey. You can work this information into your résumé and interviews to set yourself apart from other candidates—all it takes is some creativity and critical thinking.
Start searching for relevant jobs
Most employers seek candidates with specific skill sets—including independence, problem-solving, hands-on learning, and flexibility. You’ll have many of those unique qualities as someone who studied abroad. That experience can help you land a job if you look for appropriate options. For example, you could work as a language tutor, even if you’re only fluent in English. Your campus likely has a wealth of opportunities as well—there are usually plenty of internships and on-campus jobs to choose from before stepping into a career. Many businesses seek out college-aged candidates because they’re very receptive to training. You can probably easily find work, so it’s more about looking for something that aligns with your goals, field, and experience you’ve gained overseas.
Use your connections to other students and professionals
Your study abroad experience was a networking opportunity, even if you didn’t realize it. The professors and peers you studied with can become connections to the professional world. They could even provide you with the opportunity to work internationally. Whether you wait until you graduate, work remotely, or go abroad with a temporary work visa over the summer, utilizing your study abroad network is an excellent way to open more doors and stand out among a sea of applicants.
How to highlight study abroad experience on your résumé
Fitting your time abroad into a few bullet points can seem challenging, but it’s easy when you give it enough thought. Each of your experiences should connect to the professional field you want to go into in some way. Think about what stands out to you and include the most relevant and impactful information for the position you’re interviewing for.
Consider what you learned
Before you start adding to your résumé, take note of what you learned during your study abroad experience. What stands out the most about it? Consider how it helped you grow and what skills you gained. For instance, research has found that people who study abroad have 0.16 more GPA points on average than those who don’t. Tie your academic experiences and performance to your career goals when highlighting what you accomplished and learned.
Use relevant information
Examine how your experience directly relates to the jobs you’re applying to. Employers will appreciate specifics, so try to connect your study abroad skills to potential workplace responsibilities. For example, adapting to different cultures translates to flexibility and receptiveness, which is important to working well with a team in the workplace.
Highlight special skills
Most organizations have piles of résumés full of great candidates. Many of them will be like you, so use your time studying abroad to stand out from the rest. Focus on things that make you unique. You probably picked up a lot of special skills abroad that others won’t have. Including them on your résumé makes you appealing to employers and could increase your chances of landing a job. For example, knowing a foreign language makes you much more likely to get a job in any career field. Mentioning it briefly with powerful wording can make a bigger impression on a potential employer. Few people get such a unique, hands-on learning experience, so they’ll immediately take notice.
Demonstrate your uniqueness during your interview
Studying abroad inherently makes you a unique candidate because it’s not as common as it should be. Your experience in a foreign environment reflects well on you because you interacted with diverse groups. Businesses want someone who can adapt quickly to their workplace. Adjusting to a new job is easier when you’ve already spent time fitting into an entirely new culture, so work it into the conversation during an interview. Employers look for people with such backgrounds because it makes their transition smoother and shows they can adapt to new situations well.
Landing a job in your desired field can seem challenging when so many others are applying, but your time studying abroad can help you succeed. Reflect on how your once-in-a-lifetime experience aligns with your academic path and career goals. It likely strengthened many of your unique qualities, which translates well to a professional environment.
Once you’ve got your résumé squared away, get ready for your next steps with these 5 Typical Questions to Prepare With for Your First Job Interview.