Phase Three: Professionalize
Only 5% of students have a study abroad experience, so remember that this experience distinguishes you from other applicants and gives you a competitive advantage!
Resumes are meant to highlight your working skills and experience. As a recent student, you will also want to emphasize your education. Since you may not have a lot of professional experience, you might consider including a “career objective” to the top of your resume, or at least include this goal in your cover letter. There are a few options for integrating your international experience on your resume.
1. Add your Study Abroad program to the education section of your resume
2. You may want to add an “International Experience” section to your resume if you’ve gone abroad more than once, and are applying to a company that seeks such experience. In this section you can include, study, interning and volunteering abroad. Under each of these experiences, highlight your responsibilities and skills used.
3. Consider adding an Addendum list. If you’ve had considerable experience abroad, don’t have room on your resume or the experience isn’t directly related to the job you are applying for, this may be a good way to present your experience. This would be separate from your resume, and showcase your study abroad, international experience and any other extra-curricular activities you were involved in, whether it was at home or abroad, such as volunteering.
Professional vocabulary: you may want to generalize some of the skills you’ve listed to make them applicable to the jobs you are applying for. For example, to highlight your ability to cope with Culture shock, you can say that you “adjust well to new environments”
Cover letters are a great way to distinguish yourself from other applicants and highlight the experience on your resume that specifically fits the job qualifications. Mention your experience abroad in this initial introduction of yourself to the human resource team. Make the connection of how having these skills will give you an advantage in performing the duties of the job. These connections may seem obvious to you, but they may not be to the person in charge of hiring process.
Prepare for your interviews by deciding what you’d like to say about your experience before hand. We can get carried away talking about our experiences abroad, and you’ll want to avoid talking too much about your experience. This is why it is important to formulate what you would like to say before the interview, so you can strategically highlight examples of personal growth and problem solving.
Be sure that you seem reliable to the company. Your future employers want to hear that you learned from your experience abroad but are happy to be home, not that you want to return overseas, this will tell them you are not committed to the job. Talk about why this specific job, at this specific company, is right for you to show them genuine interest in their company.
If you are applying for an international position, one of the benefits might be to travel. It’s better to focus on your skills of why you would be a good candidate for the position, rather than your desire to continue traveling. Remember to focus on career related goals and not personal goals.
If you are prepared for the interview, and have made relevant connections between your experience and desired skills of the position, you will have a great interview! They will see your passion and professionalism, and they will respect what you have to offer.