Connecting Learning Abroad and Your Career

Learning abroad can help you develop and enhance intercultural competencies that are appealing to potential employers and graduate schools. Think about your academic and career goals before, during and after your experience abroad.

Before you go Abroad

You might want to watch the helpful video Marketing Your Experience: Pre-departure.

Think about how an international experience will impact your career and professional development. Identify professional development goals early by engaging in self-assessment and reflection. Create a clear relationship between your academic and career goals and your international experience.

Discuss the following with your faculty members as well as the study abroad and career center staff members:

  • The skills you hope to acquire or enhance while abroad
  • The study abroad program start and end dates and how they align with searching for internships and jobs as well as applying to graduate school
  • What you hope to gain from your international experience
  • Whether to focus solely on academics or build in volunteer or internship experience as well
  • How an international experience can make you stand out
  • How international experience fits with who you are personally and professionally
  • Opportunities to use and develop your strengths abroad
  • How to research positions in your field and industry

During Your Experience Abroad

Take responsibility for your own learning and engage your experience fully by making connections and documenting your experience.

Make Connections

  • Volunteer or participate in an internship
  • Develop friendships and professional relationships
  • Dive into opportunities for skill development
  • Set up meetings with 2-3 host nationals in career(s) of interest
  • Experience different aspects of your host culture
  • Enhance your language proficiency
  • Stay in touch with family/friends while abroad
  • Conduct research – check out U.S. companies that may have office abroad; if possible, travel for a short-term trip to build connections and learn about opportunities
  • Stay connected with OCS by reading emails and weekly newsletters
  • Check Handshake, the OCS career management system, to see who is coming to the career fair; inform us if you want to follow up with any of the organizations
  • Connect with alumni via the HMC Alumni LinkedIn page
  • Request and document references or letters of recommendation if applicable

Document Your Experience

  • Keep a reflective journal detailing experiences and newly developed skills
  • Practice talking about your experiences
  • Develop your personal brand and build your online identity (LinkedIn, blog and video blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
  • Pay attention to the ways in which your strengths are being used in a healthy and productive way and also how they are being challenged during your experience

Upon Return

You might want to watch the helpful video Marketing Your Experience: Re-entry.

Market Your International Experience

  • Work with a career center staff member to market your international experience for employers and graduate schools by identifying skills learned abroad and articulating your experience on resumes, cover letters and during interviews
  • Practice talking about your experience using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) interview method
  • Identify organizations that value intercultural skills and experiences
  • Reconnect with abroad contacts
  • Reflect on the ways in which you used your strengths abroad to be successful; these experiences will serve as examples to tell employers in interviews
  • Share your experience by serving as a contact for future participants
  • Volunteer at pre-departure orientations and get involved in your community.

Adapted from University of Minnesota.