Career Preparation

South Africa

Connecting Your Study Abroad Experience and Career Goals

Approximately 3% of US students enrolled in colleges and universities nationwide study abroad during their undergraduate academic career. You are preparing to join an elite group! However, how do you assure that your time abroad really sells and shows more than you had a great time in another country? How can you spend your time abroad to set yourself up for future success? How can you ensure that your study abroad experience is a key element for graduate school and job applications? Study Abroad should be a significant resume booster and a key element to highlight on graduate school applications or during job applications. Below are some recommendations to connect your study abroad experience with your career goals. Before you go abroad:

  • Consider your career goals: Define career areas that interest you and consider how the study abroad experience will help you meet your goals. How might your study abroad experience impact your career development? What do you want to learn about yourself while abroad?
  • List skills you want to enhance via your study abroad skills: consider skills that will make you a stronger candidate for graduate school, employment or full-time volunteering including communication and interpersonal (relational) skills, analytical and problem solving skills, intercultural understanding and competence, flexibility and adaptability, initiative, and dependability and self-reliance. A resume is a great way to assess your skill set. If you plan to distribute a resume while abroad, you need to ensure you’re providing a CV that fits for that country.
  • Check for career-related experiences (interning, volunteering, tutoring, etc …) that you could engage in while abroad or pursue (jobs, fellowships, full-time volunteering) after your return:
  • Prepare to network while abroad: networking is talking to someone with a purpose. Networking is NOT asking for a job/internship. Before you leave:
    • Inform everyone you know where you’re studying abroad and that you’re looking for people to connect with in that country/region. Everyone includes professors, monastics, staff members, family, friends, neighbors, etc ….
    • Use the CANE files (located in the Career Resource Centers) to identify alums you would like to meet during your travels.
    • Research organizations/companies in the area you’ll be studying that you want to learn more about (international companies with a U.S. presence; U.S. companies with an international presence; state and federal government with an international connection)
    • Make contacts with these organizations once you’re abroad.
    • Consider information interviewing as a way to connect.
    • While abroad, mix and mingle with the locals.
  • For assistance with your career development and study abroad experience and for more tips, visit the Career website or stop in Career Services (ASB, CSB; Mary Hall, SJU).