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Career Development

The study abroad experience can be an asset to employment. However, in order to use it to your advantage it is extremely helpful to research ways to present it to potential employers. Refer to the resources listed below for help. In addition, the Vanderbilt Center for Student Professional Development can offer excellent consultation for your resume and employment options. Don't hesitate to drop by!

Highlight Study Abroad in your Job Search

A few tips and tricks...

  • Do not assume that potential employers automatically see the value of your international experience – it must be demonstrated and clearly identifiable as full of transferrable skills
  • Articulate the experience in terms of a direct benefit to the company/organization
  • Identify proficiencies beyond those associated with your specific host country and culture
  • Focus on transferable and general skills that are learned through or enhanced by your international experience
  • Use stories! Can you demonstrate cross-cultural competencies and interpersonal skills as developed by study abroad? Can you explain how these skills are used in problem-solving?
  • Can you identify tangible activities or classes you participated in while abroad that are value-added in the eyes of an employer?
  • Did you volunteer, have an internship, or complete/start a research project?
  •  Remain active! Participating in events that you can highlight on your résumé such as conferences, workshops, or volunteer positions are important steps to demonstrating to employers that your study abroad was not simply a passing phase of gallivanting around the world. Getting some of your work published or highlighted is equally helpful, so take advantage of the contests and events that are related to your study abroad experience
  • Incorporating Study Abroad on your résumé, cover letter, and in interviews is difficult and each requires a different approach

Resume Tips

  • List your study abroad experience under your education section
  • If you worked while abroad, list the job under your professional experience section and be sure to focus on the cross-cultural learning component as well
  • Examples: Served patrons in a local café. Worked as the only American in a French business. Trained co-workers on American style customer service
  • List an overseas internship under your professional experience section rather than your activities section
  • Include the skills you acquired while abroad if your résumé includes a list of skills and proficiencies (such as intercultural communication, adaptability, growth in foreign language proficiency etc)
  • Be honest about your language proficiencies – consider have a professional evaluation of your language skills to list
  • Proficiency may be described using an ACTFL score or some of the following terms: proficient, business literate, conversationally fluent, limited working proficiency, etc.

Cover Letter Tips

  • Before you begin, put into writing how your international experience fits into your long-term career goals. It is easier to articulate this in your cover letter if you have already written out your goals for your personal reference
  • Write out a strategy as to how what you learned abroad might uniquely benefit a professional in the particular career field in which you have an interest
  • Use a study abroad experience to highlight key skills the employer is asking for in the job advertisement

Interview Tips

  • During an interview, do not state how much fun you had overseas; focus on what you learned and accomplished. Use examples to demonstrate flexibility, ability to overcome hardship, etc. (come up with more examples)
  • Use study abroad to help answer some of the following interview questions:
  • Tell me about a time you dealt with uncertainty or ambiguity
  • Tell me about a time you confronted a challenging situation
  • Tell me about a time when you had to handle conflict
  • Tell me about a time when you had to learn something new

Not sure what you learned abroad that can be a transferrable skill? Try this!

  • Write down some of your most challenging and rewarding moments during your study abroad experience. What did you learn from these experiences?
  • Jot down the answers to these following questions:
  • Did you complete a research project overseas that relates to your field of interest?
  • Did you travel independently?
  • Did you learn any new languages or customs?
  • Did you resolve any conflicts that stemmed from a cultural misunderstanding?
  • Did you work on any projects with a diverse group of people?
  • Still at a loss to come up with transferable skills you gained from study abroad? Take a look at these most common study abroad earned skills and see if any of them relate to your abroad experience. Come up with a story to demonstrate some of these skills – you will surprised how quickly a typical “day running errands abroad” can turn into a story demonstrating some of these employer-friendly skills!
  • Foreign language proficiency
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Increased cultural awareness and sensitivity
  • Improved communication skills
  • Increased awareness of global issues
  • Problem solving in an unfamiliar environment
  • Ability to work in cross-cultural teams
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Travel skills
  • Ability to work in ambiguous environments
  • Patience
  • Openness to different cultures and customs

Finding an Internationally Located or Themed Job

Resources

  • Country Career Guides are the ultimate international job seeker’s guide! Packed with country-specific information, this massive research tool contains more than 80,000 resources for finding international employment at home and abroad. Each guide has been developed by a local career specialist and is updated annually. Recommended web sites and detailed resource descriptions are included.
  • Make sure you touch base at CSPD for other resources and for career counseling!
  • You might also want to look at some of the providers we use at GEO, such as CIEE, CET, and IES, as they love to hire their own alumni!
  • Have you considered the US State Department, the Peace Corps, or an internship?
  • Some organizations with international internships include The Mountbatten Institute, AIESEC, STA World Travel, and Globalinks
  • Consider teaching English abroad! Take a TEFL introductory class through the ELC, become TEFL certified through various TEFL/TESL organizations, and use your newfound skills to teach English in a different country! Consider the JET program through the Japanese Consulate, Bridge-Linguatec, or any number of other reputable organizations.
  • Consider applying for a fellowship or competitive research grant, such as Fulbright or DAAD. Visit the Office of Honors Scholarships for more information and relevant deadlines.
  • Other resources include: BUNAC, Backdoor Jobs, InterExchange, OverseasJobs.com, and Idealist.org
  • Be creative – you never know how you will wind up abroad again!

Other Sources

Post-Graduation Opportunities Abroad - Written by Morgan Miller, one of Vanderbilt's own study abroad alumni, this manual addresses a variety of international opportunities to pursue after graduation.

How Buying Two Left Shoes Helped My Career, by Shannon Uribe, is an interesting and humorous story on how student struggles abroad are actually helpful for career skills

How to Highlight Study Abroad on your Resume and in your Interview, by Shannon Uribe, is a practical yet succinct guide to using your study abroad to make your resume shine and keep your interview interesting

VUconnect
Provides contact info for alums located around the world

GraduateJobs.com
Username: Vanderbilt; Password: cc37240

CareerLink
DoreWays is the Center for Student Professional Development's online resource for undergraduates to learn about and connect to opportunities.

Vault

Career Search
Referral code: vandy04