10 Skills to Add to Your Résumé after Studying Abroad
So you studied abroad and it was the best experience of your life. The only problem is, while you were abroad, everyone else was busy doing internships and gaining experience so that they can find a job after graduation. Should you have done the same? Not at all! Studying abroad is an accomplishment and the transferable skills you gained from it are the tools you’ll need to succeed in your career (and in life). So congratulate yourself on your good decision and don’t forget to include the following skills before handing out your résumé.
1. Global perspective
While growing up in one place often causes people to have an ethnocentric attitude, studying abroad challenges this mentality by broadening your perspective. It causes you to think on a global level and provides you with a better understanding of the world and how it’s connected. This is very attractive to employers, especially those who operate internationally. It shows them that you are able to look at problems from a variety of perspectives while taking several interests into account.
2. Cross-cultural communication
While you’re abroad, you will encounter people from many different cultures and it’s up to you to manage differences in communication, customs, values, attitudes and beliefs. At times, this might even involve conflict-resolution. Effective cross-cultural communication is attractive to employers because it demonstrates that you are tolerant and respectful of others despite your differences. This is especially true for employers operating in multicultural societies like Australia and Canada.
One of the primary reasons students decide to go abroad is to gain independence. Regardless of whether you’ve been living with your parents or on campus, living abroad gives independence a whole new meaning. You are miles away from everyone you know and free to make decisions for yourself, including where to go, what to do and who to do it with. Learning to make your own decisions is an important life skill and shows employers that you can think and act as an individual.
Of course, with independence comes responsibility. While studying abroad gives you freedom, you can no longer rely on family and friends when things go wrong. Your actions have consequences and you alone are responsible for dealing with them. You also have new responsibilities like paying rent, buying groceries and cooking meals. So while studying abroad has its perks, it also has its share of work. However, from an employer’s perspective, having responsibilities shows that you are willing to do the not-so-fun but necessary tasks.
Knowing how to balance freedom and responsibility is an important part of being a mature adult. Employers want to know that they can trust you to act appropriately, especially when you are representing their organisation (at an international business conference, for example). Studying abroad proves that you are mature enough to handle the pressures of adulthood while enjoying a new environment.
Being in a new place requires you to adapt to new surroundings. Things won’t be as you expected them to be, but that’s the point. Studying abroad is about exposing yourself to an entirely new culture, so you’ll need to be flexible and allow yourself to adapt to new languages, fashion, food and ways of life. The ability to do this successfully shows an employer that you can come into a new environment (like their organisation) and adapt to the culture easily.
Being a student means that you spend more time studying and less time making money. Although it’s possible to work part-time while abroad, you don’t want to spend all of your free time working. So, you’ll have to learn to make your money last. This means budgeting, looking for deals and comparative shopping. It also means making use of what you have instead of always buying something new. This skill is invaluable to employers—they want someone who is going to make them money, not cost them money!
8. Problem-solving skills
Being on your own also means that when problems arise, it is up to you to solve them. Imagine you arrive at your destination on a public holiday and nothing is open, including banks. Plus, there is a 15-hour time difference, meaning your bank at home is also closed. What do you do? Being able to rise to these challenges and find solutions is exactly what employers are looking for.
9. Networking skills
While there are exceptions, chances are you won’t know anyone when you go abroad. Nobody wants to spend all of their time alone, so it’s up to you to make some new friends. Although putting yourself out there can be intimidating at first, it gets easier with practice and has a great return-on-investment—lots of friends! Plus, knowing how to network is an important life skill, both when you are looking for a job and when you are trying to generate new business. Having a strong network not only shows an employer that you have social skills, but also brings value to their organisation.
10. Foreign language skills
Finally, going abroad is a prime opportunity for learning another language. Even if you decide to study in English, living in a culture where you’re encouraged to speak another language is the best way to learn. Whether you’ve already begun or you’re starting from scratch, immersing yourself gives you exposure that you simply don’t get in a classroom. In today’s workplace, knowing multiple languages is very valuable since many employers are now serving a diverse customer base or opening international offices.
By Daniela Carlucci