Making Travel Experience Count: Study Abroad and Your Resume

Keenan Thungtrakul/Senior Reporter

As a part of International Education Week, Embry-Riddle’s Office of Global Engagement partnered with Career Services to host “Study Abroad and Your Resume”. Career Services Ambassador and Program Manager Ryan Mazon led the presentation. This article shares the information Mazon presented in a question-and-answer format.

What key elements of a study abroad experience should be highlighted?

Mazon stated that you should highlight your experience working in an international environment (meaning collaborating with people from the country you’re studying in), learning another culture and language, and solving problems both while traveling and during the academic portions of the trip. With increased globalization, employers want employees who have a global perspective since they are always looking to expand their frontiers, often to other countries. When interacting with employers or while in an interview, put quality over quantity. Describe relevant experiences you had during the trip abroad tailored to the interaction and let them make you stand out.

How much abroad experience is sufficient to be able to have on a resume?

This goes back to quality over quantity, something Mazon stressed repeatedly. Having study abroad experience, even if only for a week, can not only help with job applications, but also applications to graduate school, scholarship programs, and fellowship programs. It could also lead to the discovery of new career fields! You just need to make sure you make the most out of the trip, no matter the duration. Get out of your comfort zone and get experience interacting with people from another culture. It will help you in the long run.

Where should I place my study abroad experience on my resume?

Mazon stated that the experience abroad could go in either Education, Activities, or Project Experience. Exchange programs are best listed under Education. Summer and weeklong programs, depending on the individual program, can go in either Education or Project Experience.

A program like Greece, for example, could fit either section. All the traveling you do serves as a learning experience as much as the projects and workshops conducted in the final week do. An IGNITE Abroad program fits best in Project Experience. If your study abroad program does not come with a project, see if you can start one!

Do employers want to see my study abroad ,experience?

This is a common myth, according to Mazon. The short answer is, “yes.” Even if the employer does not explicitly ask about your experience, you can bring it up in your answer to a question or in your elevator pitch if you give one. You will not alienate yourself from the employer if your recounts of your trip stay relevant to what the employer is asking. However, do not over-stress your experience. Weave it into your other experiences to help the employer get a better sense of your wider skills and abilities. Also, do not make your study abroad experiences sound the same on every resume. Make each one unique in its own sense,tailored to the position you are applying to.

How can I highlight my experience in an interview?

As mentioned by Mazon, the best time to highlight experiences abroad in an interview is when you are asked behavioral questions or questions about challenges you have faced. Use your experience to make the interview interesting. Again, put quality over quantity and keep your descriptions relevant to the question at hand; do not go off on a tangent and forget to wrap it back around to the original prompt. Even better, if the interviewer asks you about your experience directly, take it as a chance to tell the interviewer a story that describes how your trip has helped equip you for the position. If you need guidance, think about how your experience helped you mature in the fields of teamwork, patience, adaptation, and handling transitions.

How about beyond my resume? Where else can I make my abroad experience shine?

Study abroad experiences do not have to be restricted to a resume. In an interview with The Avion Newspaper, Mazon stated that you could also describe your experiences in cover letters and application essays. Do not limit yourself. In a cover letter, highlight your gained skills in depth and elaborate further on how your trip has better equipped you for the position. An essay gives you more freedom to highlight your travels. Emphasize personal gains and the significance of your trips while keeping your essay within the prompt. For more help with a resume or cover letter writing, check out the Career Services website.  For essays, the A2 Writing Center can help.