Study abroad experience

Study abroad experience

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For most job-seekers, the educational section of a resume is typically a straightforward description of schools, courses, and academic achievements. Students whose studies include time spent overseas, however, often face unexpected challenges with their resumes. It can sometimes be difficult to convey the importance of such studies to potential employers. To ensure that your resume properly captures the essence of your study-abroad experience, you need to know how to effectively include that information.

Why Employers May Not Appreciate Study-Abroad Experience

Your time spent studying abroad may have provided you with key insights and new skills that can benefit any employer.  Unfortunately, available evidence suggests that employers may not always appreciate the value of those experiences. In fact, there will always be employers who undervalue such programs. To many hiring managers, those overseas studies can seem like little more than a tourist adventure.

This is especially true for managers and leaders who have little overseas experience themselves. For them, that exposure to foreign environments may not seem all that relevant. They may also not recognize the important skills that you were forced to develop while living and studying in a new and unfamiliar environment.

Example of How to Include Study-Abroad Experience in Your Resume

When including study-abroad experience in your resume, it’s important to know where to place this information and how to list it.

There are two options for this.

Option # 1: The first is to simply include the experience in your education section.

For example:

University of CollegeTown, USA Graduated 2016

B.S. in Zoology

  • Presidential Scholarship award, Dean’s List Every Semester
  • Endangered Species Scholarship Program, 2014-2016
  • Two Semesters Studying Abroad in China, Chinese Cultural Exchange, wildlife program

Example of this on a resume:

How to include study abroad on a resume.

Option # 2: Alternatively, you can list it in a separate section – either a related experience section or in its own “international experience” section.

International Experience

Chinese Cultural Exchange, Wildlife Program Beijing, China 2015

  • Two semesters in China in formal wildlife study program
  • Immersive Mandarin studies
  • 3 Months working with Chinese zoologists studying tigers, other large cats
  • 30-day study program in Chengdu, in the Panda Base
  • Study destinations included Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, and Chengdu

The decision about where to place these details basically comes down to one factor: the amount of detail you intend to supply. If your details are succinct, you can place the experience in your normal education section. If you are providing a more detailed explanation, consider giving it its own section.

In either event, always include the institution and program of study. You should also include the coursework if that study-abroad experience was relevant to your job search or industry. If, for example, you attended an overseas university, but also traveled to multiple countries during that time, consider listing those destinations in one bullet point. This can also be a great place to include any foreign language proficiencies.

How You Can Highlight Your Study-Abroad Experience On Your Resume

Before you can convey that value, however, you need to think about why your study-abroad experience matters. How did that time in a foreign country hone your skills and shape your values and capabilities? For most students who study abroad, that experience can provide key insights that easily translate to many different industries. For example, chances are that you had to:

  • Learn to view situations and challenges from new perspectives
  • Identify unfamiliar problems and solve them by applying your knowledge to those situations
  • Gain familiarity with a new culture and value-system, and learn to accept the differences
  • Become familiar with how other parts of the world view your industry
  • Learn how cultural norms impact ethics, business strategy, and overall business practices
  • Develop a broader set of communication skills that enable you to engage with a wider variety of personalities and belief systems
  • Learn to quickly process new information
  • Work in concert with people whose background and historical understandings differ from your own

Before you even begin to include your study-abroad experience in your resume, take stock of what you learned from those experiences. Think about valuable characteristics that you developed like leadership, open-mindedness, acceptance of others, flexibility, and team-building. Remember, you need to properly understand the value of your study-abroad experience before you can properly explain it to a potential employer.

Study abroad on resume tips

Your Study-Abroad Experience is an Asset!

The important thing to remember is that your study-abroad experience may set you apart from your job-search competitors. As a result, it is vital to properly showcase that experience as an asset that increases your potential value as an employee. That time spent studying abroad could be just the thing you need to show an employer that you’re the right person for the job.

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