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Marketing Your Study Abroad Experience

“In a sense, it is the coming back, the return, which gives meaning to the going forth. We really don’t know where we’ve been until we come back to where we were – only where we were may not be as it was because of who we’ve become, which, after all, is why we left.”

-Bernard from “Northern Exposure”, upon returning from Africa

All study abroad alums are aware that returning home results in mixed emotions including the fact that no one wants to hear about your new and exciting experiences right? Wrong. While family and friends may get tired of listening to stories and adventures, future employers are an audience that may find your experience valuable as you pursue a career post graduation.

Utilizing your study abroad experience effectively has the potential to help you move forward professionally. The trick is marketing your experience appropriately. The following are some skills that employers look for when hiring recent graduates:

-Taking initiative
-Ownership of projects
-Strong work ethic
-Adaptability to change and ability to transition
-Finding comfort with uncertainty
-Positive outlook toward hardship and adversity
-Relationship building skills
-Adventurous spirit, curiosity
-Creativity
-Risk taking
-Language and communications skills

Try taking a few experiences you had while studying abroad and applying these to the transferable skills above. For example, as you know, moving to another country requires you to immediately adapt to the local culture and lifestyle. This demonstrates to the potential employer that you have the ability to work in a fast paced environment that changes quickly. Also, communication skills in professional environments are becoming more and more important to employers. They expect that you are willing and able to communicate effectively and professionally. Being abroad forces you to engage and communicate with people constantly. Whether it is other students in your program with whom you are just meeting, or it is people from the host country. Effective communication skills are necessary when studying abroad and then can be transferred when adapting to professional environments.

Although studying abroad was probably one of the best experiences of your life, where you met life-long friends and learned about yourself and other cultures, it is also an experience that can be utilized post graduation. So next time your friends roll their eyes when you bring up studying abroad, remember future employers will listen if you can market your experience successfully.

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