Employers highly value the skills and experience students gain through remote and in person study abroad, and internship programs. However, it can be hard to translate your international experience concisely in a resume or cover letter. It was life changing; how do you share that in a sentence or two?
To begin, you first need to know what skills employers are looking for. At least one of the following skills are always mentioned:
- Professionalism / Work Ethic
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Communication Skills (written and oral)
Story Telling: A Tale of Skill Acquisition
Telling the story of what you experienced and how you developed these skills makes the simple bullet point on your resume come alive for any potential employer. Sometimes, no matter how clever employers are, they don’t always see the real value a potential candidate can bring to their organization. Below are examples of how to share your story and connect them to the key skills employers are looking for.
Leadership / Professionalism / Work Ethic
Let’s start with the decision to do an international internship or study abroad program. That alone puts you in a group of around 15% of your peers who have shown leadership and work ethic to commit to this type of experience. You’ve also demonstrated confidence and a vision for yourself and your future that you are following. And in that process you’re taking some risks and enduring some uncertainty and change through the process. Certainly, these actions all point to leadership qualities.
Teamwork and Collaboration / Communication Skills
Studying or Interning abroad challenges you to communicate effectively within a new environment and culture. That culture may be the foreign university cohort, your new work colleagues or maybe your homestay family. Through the challenges you’re faced with to communicate and relate to these new situations, your teamwork and collaboration skills will be tested.
Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
One of the unavoidable challenges and growth opportunities of entering a new work environment, culture and country is that you are presented with new ways of doing things. You will be forced to assess situations based on new information and what you are experiencing in that moment. You’ll have to check your normal assumptions about how things should work. You’ll also engage in a lot of critical thinking and problem solving. Even simple challenges like organizing transportation to/from class or work (possibly in another language) are examples you can use.
Ready to pick a program and and start developing some of the skills for yourself?
Here are a few tools that might help you think more about this:
Regardless of your career aspirations or plans, don’t let anyone tell you that an international experience is not necessary or worth your time. Find a way to tell your story – we guarantee it will be worth the effort.