This post is part of a series on professional development co-sponsored by Experience.com
Phase Two: Connect
Mentioning your growth and exposure to different people can highlight traits like “Interpersonal and relationship skills”. For example: “I always touted myself as having great interpersonal skills, but until I studied abroad, I was never exposed to a diverse group of people. This allowed me to improve my interpersonal skills and gain cross-cultural competence as well.”
Employers will be interested in your personal growth and interpersonal skills. So do not discount your experience abroad just because it was not in a professional setting. Interpersonal relations and communications are often ranked very high in desired qualifications in the workplace, your transferable skills will be an asset for working with a multi-cultural team.
Having fluency in another language is often a desirable trait, especially with increased internationalization of the workplace. Even if the language you learned doesn’t apply to the job you are looking for, remember that the simple fact that you were able to learn another language shows your ability to learn and adapt. The process of learning a language is a skill in itself!
How involved were you in the planning and preparation process before your time abroad? The application process for study abroad programs and international student visas are often intense and detail oriented. If you were successful in these application processes, it shows your initiative, attention to detail, and often, patience!
How can you present what you’ve learned as example of these skills? Choose three stories from your time abroad that illustrates the skills that you feel are significant to the job you are applying for. It helps to think of times when you ran into an obstacle that you had to overcome, or a cultural miscommunication that you had to translate. These trials will be the best scenarios to showcase your growth and application of skills.
Familiarize yourself with the mission of the company, how do your career goals align with this mission? Prepare what you would like to say about your experience. Use the answers to these questions and the connections you made in the next phase to Professionalize your experience and highlight your skills in your cover letter, resume and during interviews.
Studying abroad is an excellent opportunity for you to acquire an entirely new perspective on the world around you. There are countless life lessons that you can take away from the experience. Plenty of jobs may open up to you, as there are several employers who understand the value of an individual who is well-traveled and well-rounded. This experience may also help you if you decide to pursue an online degree. If you go for your master’s degree in criminal justice, for example, the abroad experience may help provide you with a holistic view on criminal justice along with a greater understanding of the psychological aspect of the field.