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How to market your study abroad experience

With the popularity of study abroad rapidly increasing, thanks to new grants given by Purdue and the growing desire among students to gain global experiences, it’s important to know how studying abroad can enhance your resume and demonstrate valuable skills. It’s also important to know how to communicate these skills and impress potential employers.

If you did an internship abroad:

If you did an internship abroad, obviously this counts as valuable work experience. It’s probably best to list in your “Work Experience” section of your resume, and list your accomplishments and tasks with our action verbs. Also be sure to show your ability to adapt to change and learn in a foreign environment.

If you took classes abroad, and they were applicable to your major:

Take into consideration the unique perspectives given to you by studying with students or a professor from a different culture. Even studying with other students from the U.S. who come from so many different backgrounds can be quite life-changing, especially if you’re used to hanging out with kids from similar backgrounds at school at home.

Talk about how working with people from different backgrounds opened your eyes to new ways of doing things and inspired your creativity. If you did a graphic design studio in Copenhagen, but got to spend a lot of time working with architecture students and furniture designers, communicate your interdisciplinary experience and what it means for you as a designer.

Also, you most likely worked on a big project that can be added to a portfolio or talked about in an interview.

If you took classes abroad that did not pertain to your major:

Studying abroad still showcases a unique skill set. Did you learn or improve upon a new language over there? Did you have to adapt to culture shock? Overall, studying abroad typically shows a sense of adventure, open-mindedness and independence.

Be sure to tailor your experiences to be applicable to a cover letter or interview. Phrases like “My studies in Japan provided me with a great insight into the cultural differences that influence consumers in different countries and improved my ability to contribute to international marketing initiatives.” will show your potential employer that study abroad played an important part in your experiences so far and will encourage them to ask you more about it if you don’t bring it up first.

Overall, studying abroad offers a plethora of unique experiences and helps you to learn a lot about yourself. Know how to sell yourself and communicate how studying abroad affected you. Try to remember and document specific occurrences that took place while you were studying abroad and how it can be transformed into a great story to tell during an interview. Remember what others said about you abroad (whether it be your teacher, locals, or fellow students) and use it to back yourself up.

Studying abroad can be a great experience, and it can certainly be quite resume enhancing. If you need help figuring out how to transform your experiences for a resume or cover letter, visit the CCO during drop in hours (M-F between 10 AM and 4 PM) in YOUNG 132. If you need help deciding whether or not studying abroad is right for you, and what kind of experience you’re looking for, visit the Study Abroad Office right down the hall in YOUNG 105.

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