Translating the Benefits of Study Abroad in an Interview

There’s more to our How to Market Your Study Abroad Experience Toolkit than just paperwork! Now that your study-abroad optimized résumé and cover letter have landed you an interview, it’s time to talk about it [cue scary music]…IN PERSON.

90% of IES Abroad alumni attributed their development of critical professional skills, like adaptability, cultural understanding, language proficiency, self-confidence, and ability to navigate ambiguity to their time abroad, according to the IES Abroad Recent Alumni Survey. Additionally, alumni believed that studying abroad allowed them to build up the confidence to deal with new skills required for a particular job.

And yet, even with this newfound confidence, we understand that speaking about your study abroad experience in a professional setting can be challenging. Surely, some things about the city you called 'home' for a semester or summer are fascinating, but consider how many of the specifics should be included when talking about your time abroad in a job interview. Determine which things are truly applicable to the job or internship rather than what might be a fun anecdote better shared with your friends. 

Three Things to Consider

a student hiking in the Andes Mountains in Chile

What skills did you develop while abroad?

Perhaps you taught yourself a new online SEO platform, honed your ability to interpret non-verbal cues if you weren't familiar with the local language while traveling, or advanced your Dutch language skills.

homes on the coastal road in Nice

How could these study abroad skills be used at home?

You probably won't use your Dutch skills every day once you've returned home, but how did studying language abroad teach you persistence and discipline, and is it possible that those skills could be useful in a future international career?

Three students in front of the European Council in Brussels Belgium

What is the best way to present these skills in a professional context?

For example, acquiring foreign language skills and placing yourself in a different cultural setting hones your social abilities, allows you to better handle uncertain situations, and makes you a more attentive listener.