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IES Abroad Alumni Discuss How Study Abroad Helped Their Careers

We know that studying abroad is life-changing, but don’t just take it from us. It’s best to hear it from our students who have experienced our programs first-hand, and are applying those experiences personally and professionally.  
Yes, professionally! There are many career benefits of studying abroad to help you jump start your career. 

We welcomed three of our Chicago-based IES Abroad alumni for a Facebook Live interview to discuss how they applied their study abroad experiences in their job search and in their current roles. Meet our featured alumni: 

  • Mackenzie Drutowski: Lawyer | European Union, Spring, 2007

  • Marlowe Padilla: Marketing Assistant | Sydney, Spring 2015

  • Sophie Babcock:  PR Executive | London, Summer 2014

Mackenzie, Marlowe, and Sophie had a lot of useful advice during our Facebook Live session. Check out some highlights:

HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT PERSONAL GROWTH WHEN APPLYING FOR JOBS

“You go abroad and you’re not expecting all these challenges and things to be thrown at you, but study abroad is all of that and then some. It’s about being flexible. It’s accepting the things you can’t change, but also rolling with the punches, and seeing how you can mold yourself to a situation. When I was applying for jobs, and would be asked about my study abroad experience, that is what I would highlight.” – Marlowe

HOW STUDY ABROAD MAKES YOU MORE RESOURCEFUL

“Resourcefulness. Just learning to think a little bit more outside the box, and to navigate new challenges with a different set of resources than you’re used to. Probably the most useful soft skill is just being more sensitive or aware, an awareness that comes when you spend time with people in other cultures.” – Mackenzie

HOW YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE AFFECTS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS AT WORK

“You’re talking about your experience [with employers] and the confidence that you now have, they’re just so important. Not only important in the interview process, but when meeting people face to face [in the workplace] and knowing that you can be put in front of a client who may be from a different country and you have that cultural awareness that you may not have had if you hadn’t studied abroad.” – Sophie

HOW TO USE YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE IN A PROFESSIONAL CONVERSATION

“There’s a very specific process for interviewing for law … In the interview process, they see if you can pass what they call the ‘airport test.’ They want to see that if they were stuck on a layover with you at an airport for six hours, would it be terrible? Are they interesting? Is this someone I’m going to enjoy talking to? So a lot of it [the interview] is talking about experiences and study abroad and travel came up a lot, and people find it interesting … You have something that you can talk about that makes you stand out, and makes you more memorable. It came up in many interviews that allowed me to relate to people.” – Mackenzie

CREATE YOUR STUDY ABROAD STORY

“Everybody goes abroad to have fun, of course that’s part of it, but there are so many things you could speak to. I think it’s important to not only have it on your résumé, but to have a story that sums up something cultural you’ve learned and talk about your experience.” – Sophie

HOW STUDY ABROAD WILL HELP YOU IMPROVE YOUR WEAKNESSES

“Study aboard was a really great experience because I learned time management skills. Study abroad taught me that it’s ok to ask questions. I’m a really stubborn person in general, and when it comes to figuring things out, I usually like to figure them out on my own. It took going abroad to be in a different context, and know that I need to ask questions.” – Marlowe

Want more? Watch the full Facebook Live.