Studying abroad is described by many as one of the best experiences of their academic career and even one of the best experiences of their entire lives. Living in a foreign country and immersing oneself in an unfamiliar culture and language is a daunting adventure, and an incredible learning opportunity. Because this time contributes tremendously to personal development, it can be a good achievement to highlight to employers. However, it can be difficult to explain the finer points of a long jaunt to a foreign country in just a few words. In this article, we will offer tips on how to best incorporate your experiences abroad to give you a professional leg up on your resume.
Approach it like a previous job
During your time abroad, you spent long months totally engaged in a new environment. You spent hours a week intently practicing a language and you navigated the streets and customs of a strange city. Your experience away certainly involved more time and effort than any job you’ve had before. Don’t discredit this experience. Treat it like you would another job in your past experience column. This is particularly applicable if you volunteered or worked abroad, but if not, it can and should still be treated this way.
Focus on how you changed
Employers love to see personal progression. On your resume, be sure to highlight internal changes that living in another country brought about. It is especially important to highlight how these changes will help you in your particular field. The idea here is to show that your unique experiences abroad make you a special and desirable candidate for a job.
Also note the particular skills that you learned while abroad. List specialized classes that you may have taken and be sure to reserve extra space if you were able to learn another language.
Include a reference
If possible, list an English-speaking professor, employer, or associate from the country that you studied in. It can look extremely impressive to have international contacts. If this reference is contacted, he or she can reveal a side of you that no one else can share with a potential employer.
Focus on triumphs
You undoubtedly experienced many challenging times while you were abroad. Though you surely learned a great deal from these challenges, it is important to focus on the triumphs that came from these challenges and how you were able to overcome them.
There were probably things that you didn’t enjoy about living abroad. Keep these things to yourself! It is fine to mention vaguely that things were different, but always stay positive and respectful of other cultures.
While you will remember the time you spent abroad for the rest of your life, and you may never be able to properly articulate your time away, highlighting these experiences can be a great resource for enhancing your resume and career.