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How to Highlight Study Abroad on Your Resume and in a Job Interview

July 28, 2011
by CEA MOJO
  As you read in my last blog post, my study abroad experience in China taught me many valuable lessons that I utilize everyday in my career. However, long before I realized those benefits, I noticed the value my junior year when I applied for summer internships. Every interviewer I met was fascinated by my study abroad experience and wanted to talk about it. They either said something similar to, “Wow, you studied in China! What did you think? I have always wanted to go there." Or , "How was China? I've been there, too!” My study abroad experience helped break the ice in interviews. It allowed me to open up with the interviewer and engage in dialogue rather than answering question after question like a robot.

Now, as the Program Coordinator at the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona, I have the opportunity to help other students leverage their study abroad experience during their job search. One of my job responsibilities is to assist students in writing their resumes. When I meet a student with study abroad experience, I always share with them these tips:

1. List your study abroad experience toward the top of your resume.

Studying abroad is a unique experience; show it off! List it toward the top of your resume, right underneath the education heading. Busy recruiters only spend seconds glancing at your resume; so, you want to catch their attention right away.

2. Note the location, duration, and title of the study abroad program.

Do not leave the recruiter guessing. Clearly explain to them the details of your study abroad program.

3. Emphasize the skills you developed.

Recruiters want to know how your study abroad experience can benefit them. Browse the job description, looking for skills that you developed while abroad. Mention those skills on your resume. For example, if the job you are applying for is looking for someone with problem-solving skills, you could write something like, “developed problem-solving skills while exploring and navigating an unfamiliar city.”    

4. Describe what made your experience unique and challenging.

Everyone’s study abroad program is different and each student’s experience is unique. Demonstrate on your resume what made your experience special. Did you receive a study abroad scholarship for the program? Did you maintain a 4.0 GPA? Did you volunteer while abroad, perhaps teaching English or using your own new-found language skills? What is something unique you learned or did?

5. Include any work or volunteer experience.

If you had the opportunity to volunteer or work abroad, highlight it under the experience category on your resume. Explain and describe any obstacles you had to overcome as an employee abroad, i.e., language barrier, differences in business culture, etc.

Study abroad experience is a great way to differentiate yourself from other candidates applying for jobs. So be sure to use it your advantage on your resume and during the interview.
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