So you spent the school year in Guatemala, and didn’t work for a year. Now that you’re graduating, you are wondering if you learned anything applicable to the job world while you studied. Never fear! Here are a few tips for adding study abroad experience to your resume.
Did you learn a language?
Even if you’re not completely fluent, if you spent a considerable amount of time in a country where they speak a language you didn’t already know, you probably picked up enough to have a conversation, and you learned it at conversation speeds instead of at the slower rate of speaking that college students typically learn them at. Conversational Swahili may actually be something that a potential employer can use! This is especially true in customer service or sales jobs.
Did you maintain a website?
When I went on my study abroad, the program had a website for each semester. One of my classes was photography, and we provided many of the pictures that were posted – or should I say, published – on this website. In looking for teaching jobs, I had a ready portfolio to show an educational activity that I participated in that I could modify for high school students. This activity not only is fun and modern, but teaches students technology skills that they can turn into a career.
Did you do any volunteer work?
In South Africa, I volunteered in the townships with my classmates. I have included this as international experience, and experience working with children in my resume ever since. This has been particularly useful because I went to an expensive private school, and may look out of touch with students at lower economic levels. This showed that I dealt with children far more disadvantaged than any I am likely to find in the US successfully.
Shows positive characteristics
It takes a lot of courage to leave everything and everyone you know behind and travel the world. This same courage could make you the kind of person to jump on a new technology and lead your company forward into the future. It also shows adaptability, which is helpful in any work situation. It requires you to think on your feet as well as learn to communicate with people in ways that you are not used to communicating. You also learned that manners and customs are different in different countries. All of these are useful in large multinational corporations.
Ultimately, what you want to focus on in your resume depends on the job you are looking for. However, a little bit of creativity will allow you to highlight the best of yourself using your study abroad program. You learned a great many things about yourself, your country, and the world in a short period of time. Make sure your potential employer knows about these things.