There are countless benefits of taking a year, semester, or even a week to study abroad during college. It is one of the best things you can do for personal development as you are thrown out of your comfort zone into the unknown to experience another culture with new people. Although many students enter the program feeling anxious and uncertain about the situation, most students describe their experience abroad as “life-changing”. Students display initiative by committing to a program that will require them to travel alone in a different culture with people they just met. They develop resilience to ambiguity and an ability to understand the world from different perspectives.
Beyond the benefits for one’s personal life, studying abroad helps students develop valuable job skills such as language proficiency, confidence, collaboration, and communication skills. “If you’re traveling alone, you’ll gain self-sufficiency and learn how to think on your feet. On the other hand, if you’re traveling as a group, you’ll learn how to hear the voices of others and hone your teamwork skills.” (GoAbroad). 80% of study abroad students reported that studying abroad allowed them to adapt better to diverse work environments. This opportunity opens so many doors for your personal and professional life while allowing you to try something out of your comfort zone that builds tremendous independence.
How can you add and communicate such a life changing experience to a resumé? Many employers are understanding the benefits of study abroad programs and are pleased to see it on a resume, but you need to be able to effectively and intelligently reflect on your experience and how the skills you acquired will translate to your skills for that particular job. “Through written materials or in conversations, employers need you to clearly and thoughtfully convey how your study-abroad experience has prepared you to be a strong candidate for their organization.” (University of Virginia).
Here are a few ways that you may have benefitted from a study abroad program that may translate to employers as to how it will benefit their business:
- Develop an understanding of global issues in your industry.
- Acquire the ability to be adaptable to new environments with ambiguous situations.
- Solve problems on your own or in a group by applying familiar concepts to unfamiliar situations.
- Understand business situations from different perspectives.
To include your study abroad experience on a resumé, you can list the program and institution under the “Education” section of your resumé or list it under coursework if it is related to your job search. Alternatively, you could include it in the “Related Experience” section, and if you have multiple study abroad trips, you should add an “International Experience” or “Travel” section to your resume and describe projects or work experience that you may have had while you were abroad that would relate to the job you are applying for. “Think back on your trip and determine who would be good for you to ask to be a reference: a teacher from the country in which you studied, host family members, and an overseeing faculty member from your home school are just a few possibilities. Gather those references soon after having your study abroad trip, while the experience is fresh in everybody’s mind.” (Salisbury University)
If you have studied abroad, you know the advantages that the experience has had on your personal development, and you should consider how your commitment to that change in your life has helped you grow as a professional as well. Use your experience to become more marketable to employers and be prepared to articulate how it has developed you to be the best candidate for the job. Curious about study abroad programs? Check with your university to see what options they have for students. I am a 30 year old grad student with two kids and thought my opportunity for study abroad was long gone. I found out the University of Nevada, Reno offered a one week study abroad program in Sydney, Australia. I organized the kids, stepped WAY out of my comfort zone, and although it was only a week long, it was one of the most beneficial and FUN experiences of my life