5 Tips For Marketing Your Study Abroad Experience
Studying abroad is a valuable and rewarding experience, not just because of the opportunities it provides for broadening your worldview and gaining perspective, but also because of the ways it can help you reach your career goals. Though it may seem like the majority of people go abroad during their time at university, this is not the case. In fact, less than 10% of university students study abroad, whether it’s for a summer, a semester, or a full academic year. This means that if you had the privilege of spending time at a university abroad, you are in the minority and can use your experience to help you stand out. However, in order to fully and properly market your time abroad, it is important to be able to articulate the ways you benefited from it and say something beyond “it was great” when asked about it.
Evaluate Your Study Abroad Experience
Before marketing your time abroad to others, you first have to unpack it for yourself and fully understand the value of everything you learned and experienced. Examine the impact that the various facets of studying abroad had on you. What was academic life like and how was it different from academics at home? Who did you live with? How did you engage with the local community and integrate yourself into the culture? How do these new relationships and connections and experiences factor into your identity today?
Understand Why Employers Value It
Next, you should take a step back and consider why employers should, and do value the experience in their employees. Successfully studying abroad demonstrates responsibility, maturity, and independence. It’s a time when you are pretty much entirely on your own; your normal support systems are on the other side of the world, so you have to be resourceful and solve problems for yourself. Studying abroad also shows a certain level of cultural awareness, as you had to connect with people who are different from you and immerse yourself in a foreign culture for an extended period of time.
Incorporate It into Your Resume
Once you know why employers should consider experience abroad, it’s time to build it into your resume. The university you studied at can be put under the “Education” heading of your resume. From there, you can consider what strengths and skills studying abroad helped to cultivate. This can range from time and money management to confidence, to decision-making. There are an infinite number of ways studying abroad can help build your character.
Build It into Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a chance to succinctly summarize your qualifications and experience in no more than 30 seconds or the length of an elevator ride. It should be concise, clear, and targeted and use action words. When you return from studying abroad, it can be valuable to incorporate the fact that you lived and studied outside your country. For example, you could mention that you recently returned from studying abroad in Argentina, where you increased your fluency in Spanish and discovered your passion for community service.
Sell Your Experience
Finally, you should be prepared to talk about studying abroad in interviews and connect your time abroad to your goals for the future. You can refer to specific instances from studying abroad in order to answer common interview questions such as giving an example of a time you worked with people different from you or when you had to solve a problem. Practice effectively communicating your experience without making general, ultimately unimpressive statements about how it was “fun” or “good.” If you can explain how the time you missed a train in Germany helped you hone your ability to do things like think on your feet, adapt to situations quickly, and problem solve, then you will be off to a good start.
With proper preparation, you can market your time abroad to get internships or jobs that will help you take significant steps towards your career goals. It all begins with looking at your experiences from a new perspective, and seeing how they were and can be valuable to you in ways that extend beyond the bounds of your personal life.