“Education abroad does not inherently endow a career advantage. It’s only perceived as advantageous when a student can articulate how they have used that experience to gain the knowledge, skills and abilities required by an employer… “ Sheila Curran (International Educator)
In this section we will help you turn your global experience into competitive edge for your future professional development.
Define and Brand your international experience
- Reflect on your experience and make a list of transferrable skills you gained.
Transferrable skills are a core set of skills and abilities that you acquire over time, which can be applied to a wide range of jobs and industries. Not only do they show employers how you’d be a good fit for a team, they also demonstrate what you bring to a role, and how much you have learned from previous positions or experiences. Through a global experience you develop a wide range of skills that can prepare you for many career options.
21st Century Workforce Skills (Gaining an Employment Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects in the United States)
- Communication Skills
- Course or major-related knowledge
- Intercultural skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Language skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Technical/computer software skills
- Tolerance for ambiguity
- Work ethic
2. Make your global experience a part of your personal brand
- Highlight your global experience on the social media platforms (Make sure you do it in professional and ethical way! See the resources below with tips and suggestions)
Guidelines of Ethical Photography (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
- Join Pitt Study Abroad Alumni Group
- Follow and engage in meaningful conversations with professionals in the field of interest, both locally and globally
3. Create and practice your elevator pitch
This brief statement is between 30 seconds and two minutes, which introduces you and your situation (include things like your name, what you’re studying, when you’re expecting to graduate, etc.). Tell them about your international experience, the projects you worked on, and what you gained from the experience. This is a great opportunity to also tell the listener what you are thinking of doing next (i.e., graduate school, seeking an internship or employment opportunity). Provide and/or collect business cards and follow-up with a thank you note, thanking the listener for taking the time to talk with you.
4. Update your resume/cover letter
It’s true that global experiences make you stand out to employers – remember that only about 10% of students in the United States graduate with a global experience! But you might be asking yourself how you can further set yourself apart from even your peers that have had a global experience.
Here, we’re going to give you some tools to get started on thinking about how to work global experience into your resume,your cover letter, and in job interviews. Remember, though, that this is just a start. You should take advantage of resources on campus to review your resume and practice in mock interviews.
Resume example 1 (Global Experience listed in Academic section)
Resume example 2 (Global Experience listed in Work experience section)
Resume example 3 (Global Experience as a stand alone section)
5. Collect recommendation letters and/or ask people to serve as a strong reference for you
These can be used for graduate school and LinkedIn also has a feature that allows you to upload things like letters to show to an employer under certain areas of the site. LinkedIn also has a recommend someone tool where you can get current or past supervisors, faculty members, or anyone who can vouch for your work, to write a recommendation about you.
There really is a hidden job market and the only way to find it is through building relationships with people who can potentially help you get a job. These people can also serve as mentors in your field of interest. Learn about a specific career field, develop relationships, learn about job and internship opportunities, improve interview skills, and how you can even assist others. Networking can be done in a variety of ways: informational interviews, career fairs, job-shadowing, social events, conferences and workshops, trainings, and alumni events (just to name a few!). Advisors, professors, alumni, past and present employers, people in the community, student and professional organizations, and even friends and family all can be people in your network.
Here are some additional resources for you to maximize your global experience:
Marketing Your International Experience (AIFS Student Workbook)