How to Sell Your Study Abroad Experience to Employers

By: Anna Jonas, Junior, Dalhousie University

Studying abroad is the experience of a lifetime. Your view of the world expands, you become more independent, and you learn more than you ever thought possible. It also looks great on a resume. But it can be hard to put everything that you learned into words on paper. Here's how to explain to employers the benefits of your time abroad and all that you gained from your experience.

Going through the study abroad application process requires you to be diligent and persistent. With so many interviews and forms, you need to be self-disciplined to get through all of it. This serves as evidence to employers that you are committed and will see projects through to the end. Plus, dealing with all that paperwork forces you to be organized, a necessary skill to do any job efficiently.

There are tons of details you need to carefully plan before you study abroad, from getting a visa to finding a place to live to buying health insurance. All of these things require careful preparation and time management skills in order to get them all done properly and in time, showing employers that you are efficient and detail oriented.

Living in another culture can be tough. Moving to a new city or country requires you to adapt to cultural differences and deal with change. It can also test your problem-solving abilities, forcing you to be resourceful and creative in your foreign surroundings. These are skills that many employers look for, since today's society is constantly evolving and employees need to be able to quickly adjust to new situations in unfamiliar environments and tackle complex issues.

We live in a globalized world. By studying abroad and constantly being around people from other countries, you gain valuable intercultural communication skills, particularly if the place where you studied had a language barrier. These skills, whether in English or another language, are incredibly valuable to employers as today's workforce is incredibly diverse. Doing business or interacting with people from other cultures is a fact of life and being able to communicate effectively makes doing business a lot easier.

While studying abroad, you will also be networking with professors and future professionals in your field of interest through the courses you take, many of whom may serve as valuable job contacts in the future.

During your study abroad, you often get to participate in opportunities you would never have had the chance to at home, such as joining a new organization, collaborating with others on a special group project or working somewhere unique. Participating in enriching extra experiences shows enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. They also give you previous experience that may be related to the job you are interested in, helping you to stand out from the competition in an interview. Studying at a different university gives you a chance to take courses that may be specific to the area or school where you are studying. These add variety and value to your degree that you would be unable to gain otherwise.

Living among a new culture and interacting with people from other countries can help you gain different perspectives on the world around you. It can make you more observant of cultural differences and world issues. This wider understanding and range of viewpoints gives you an ability to think about the big picture, a valuable asset in the workplace when working on an international or large scale project.

Every experience you have while studying abroad lets you learn a bit more about yourself. You get to know your leadership style, conflict resolution skills, strengths and weaknesses, and how you prepare for the unexpected. By gaining a better understanding of yourself, you can use that knowledge to work well with others.