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Marketing Your Study Abroad

Studying abroad sets you apart when applying to jobs, co-ops, and graduate schools, but being able to articulate what you learned from your experience can sometimes be a challenge. Many potential employers and graduate school admissions counselors seek candidates with international experience because of the skills and knowledge students gain through study abroad. It is up to you to effectively communicate the skills and proficiencies that will benefit their organization and convince them of the value of your experience. 

Transferable Skills

(n.) skills that you learn from different experiences that stay with you from one situation to another. 

What skills have you acquired or enhanced while you were abroad? Think of specific examples to highlight certain skills that are important to your future employer, counselor, or partner.

  • Enhanced cultural awareness and sensitivity to customs and cultural differences
  • Foreign language proficiency (elementary to fluent)
  • Clarification of goals and improved self-awareness
  • Improvement in communication skills across cultures
  • Awareness of global economic and political issues and realities
  • Problem Solving, Crisis Management, Adaptability, and Resource Management
  • Increased confidence, initiative, and independence

List of Example Transferable Skills

Singapore Gardens by the Bay

Self Reflection

You should be prepared to give specific examples and and insightful comments about your study abroad. Take some time to reflect on all your experiences, both good and bad. 

Questions to consider:

  • What was the biggest challenge I faced while abroad?
  • What 1-2 things did I like most about going abroad?
  • What 1-2 things bothered me the most while I was abroad?
  • Have I noticed any changes about myself since returning?
  • What was the most significant thing I learned about myself from my study abroad experience? 
  • How did my experience abroad change or not change my expectations, career goals, or life plans?

Resume and Cover Letter

Always include your study abroad on your resume and, if applicable, in your cover letter. Even if your career goals do not include a specific international dimension at this time, use your cover letter to promote general transferable skills, such as independence, confidence, problem solving, and flexibility. 

You can incorporate your study abroad experience into your resume in a variety of ways:

  • List the name of the program/institution in the "education" section of your resume, just as you list Drexel University.

  • Consider listing coursework if it is related to your internship/job search. You might describe relevant projects or any work, intern, or volunteer experience you had during your time abroad.

  • Depending on the level of detail you want to include, you can list these study abroad related experiences in the "education" section, the “related experience” section, or perhaps in an “international experience” section, if you plan on conducting a search with an international focus.

If you're unsure about how to include your study abroad experience in your resume, please contact your Study Abroad Advisor or the Steinbright Career Development Center for more tips or example resumes.

Networking and Interviewing

If your interviewer remarks or asks about your international experience, take it as an opportunity to expand. Don’t let the opportunity pass by with a simple “Yes, it was great!”

  • Develop stories and responses in advance. Be ready to show it was a learning experience and provide examples.
  • Identify skills in the job/internship description and create examples from your international experience that exemplify those skills.
  • Be sure to also use domestic examples, like previous co-op experiences, and ensure your example stories are balanced. It is better to illustrate critical thinking skills than to show-off one culture at the expense of another.

Sources: Goucher College Career Development Office, University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce

Photo Credit:
Nithya Thangaraj, Marketing, "Singapore Gardens by Bay"