Why Study Abroad is Good for Your Resume
Written by Elizabeth December 10, 2015
In my biased opinion, study abroad is an experience that every college student should undertake. Aside from the perks of living in a foreign country and traveling on the weekends, study abroad is also a huge opportunity for personal growth. Just by living and doing, there are lessons to be learned at every turn. In October, I had a few interviews for summer internships, and I found myself answering situational questions with examples from study abroad— and that was when we were only halfway through the semester! Here’s how some of those sought-after traits came into play while I was abroad.
Assertiveness: You don’t just wake up one day and find yourself in Italy. It took a lot of initiative to visit the study abroad office, research and apply for programs, make arrangements for credits that will transfer, organize your belongings into two suitcases, and eventually get on a plane to Venice. It’s a decision that shows people that you’re open to new experiences and willing to step outside of your comfort zone.
Time Management: It’s truly an art form. Balancing a full course load with consecutive weekends of travel is a feat and it’s one that employers are going to notice. If you can pull off a great GPA at the same time, it will show employers that you’ve got your priorities straight and will be able to complete assigned tasks in a timely and efficient manner.
Problem-solving: When you arrive in a new city at 11:00pm on a Friday night and need to get to your hostel, you have no choice but to use your brain and figure out a new public transit system every weekend. You’ve got to be able to think on your feet and keep calm in stressful situations. Thinking through possible alternatives and working out the best solution in unfamiliar settings makes for skills that will translate back to whatever job you find yourself in next.
Communication Skills: Calling for a taxi, ordering food, and asking for directions are tasks we don’t think twice about in the U.S., but they take an extra level of involvement when there’s a different language involved. Aside from attempting communication in the language of the country in which you’re studying, it also takes skill to manage communication across the time zones between Europe and America. I kept in touch with my advisors at school in order to navigate the fall career fair and registration for spring classes. Life doesn’t stop while you’re abroad, so it’s up to you to keep on top of what’s happening at home!
Teamwork: Whether traveling in pairs or as a group of eight, everyone is going to have their own ideas of how they want to structure their time in a city full of sights to see and things to do. It becomes important to know how to gauge the group dynamics and balance the different opinions fairly and effectively. It’s no fun if you spend the whole weekend arguing about where to go next or who’s going to navigate the way there. Flexibility and adaptability (look– more job application buzz words!) will help to keep the peace in group and that’s important in any work setting.
Independence: Even though you’ll probably be traveling in a group most of the time, you’re still responsible for yourself and all of your belongings. From printing train tickets and boarding passes to keeping track of your passport and your toothbrush, everyone has to take care of themselves in order for travel to go smoothly. Being able to fend for yourself and not get lost in the shuffle of what’s going on around you will help you to stand out among your peers and show employers that you know what you’re doing.
Perspective: Spending time exploring other parts of the world is an invaluable way of expanding your horizons and opening your eyes to different ways of life. Developing an understanding and an appreciation for other cultures translates into patience and resilience that will help you to relate a little bit better to people from all walks of life. Living abroad is also a chance to observe business practices and consumer behavior in a way that makes you realize that there is always more than one way of doing things.
With this whole list of skills that become more refined while studying abroad, it’s no problem to put together two or three bullet points for LinkedIn! Travel is a great talking point and living abroad isn’t an asset that every applicant can boast. Along with everything you’ve got going for you at your home university, study abroad is another way to make you stand out and help employers remember your name.