The first thing a student must realize when attempting to include their experience abroad in their resume is that it isn’t a common experience for most U.S. college students. In fact, only 1.5% of all U.S undergraduate students managed to study abroad during the academic year 2015-16. Knowing how to articulate your experience and highlight it on your resume can give any student an edge in the job market.
- Expand on your Experience
Don’t just write “Study Abroad – France” and stick it somewhere in your resume, expand on it. Indicate where, when, and what you did while you were abroad. Did you volunteer, work, or study? How long were you abroad? Come up with a major take away from your experience and include that as well. For example: “Studying abroad has provided me with the ability to adapt to an unfamiliar environment quickly and communicate effectively despite cultural differences.”
- Know Where to Put it
The placement of your study abroad experience on your resume may depend on what kind of program you went on. If you studied abroad at a specific institution for a semester or year (ex. University of Exeter, American University of Rome, Rennes School of Business, etc.), it may be more effective to put that institution under “Education” and format it equally to Towson. However, short-term programs that weren’t at a specific institution abroad may fit better as a bullet point or line under Towson. If you were involved in service learning or if you interned abroad, it may fit better under Work or Volunteer Experience. Make sure you think about where your program is marketed best on your resume, and format it accordingly.
- Keep it Professional
Your resume shows employers or graduate schools why you are a serious candidate for their school or organization. Your experience abroad should speak to that. Stick to words and phrases like “adapt,” “cross-cultural communication,” “flexibility,” etc. Market those qualities, not the amount of countries you visited while you were abroad or the personal experiences you had (besides, if you land an interview, you can talk about those things then!).
- Make Them Want to Know More
This goes along with what I was saying above, but make sure you leave things out to talk about in an interview! Your resume is supposed to make whoever is viewing it want to know more about you; it is not supposed to contain every detail of your life or experiences. Studying abroad is an attention grabber, and chances are that once an employer sees that you’ve been overseas, they will want to know about your experience and what skills/lessons you learned–no need to give every detail ahead of time!
- Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter for Every Job or School You Apply To
This is true for all aspects of a resume and cover letter, not just highlighting international education. Different words or examples to include may vary from job to job, or school to school. Think about what you learned abroad that is specific to what you’re applying for, and change your resume each time (I know it sounds like a hassle, but it will pay off!).
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