Connecting Study Abroad to Your Career
boston college career center
Participating in education abroad can provide critical skills for any career, including language learning, adaptability, independence, and cultural knowledge, which are valued by employers and graduate schools. This online resource, a collaboration between the Career Center and the Office of International Programs, offers professional development guidance before, during, and after your abroad experience.
Additional information can be found on the Office of International Programs website.
Take time to prepare for your abroad experience by updating your professional credentials, meeting with a Career Advisor, and setting aside time for reflection on how this experience fits into your larger academic and professional goals.
If you want to do an internship abroad, start networking before and as soon as you get settled in your host country. Use LinkedIn to search for BC alumni in your host city and research student groups on your host campus that might provide additional opportunities.
Schedule a meeting with a Career Coach to discuss how your study abroad experience may impact your job search and develop a plan of action while abroad.
Update your resume and cover letter and have them critiqued by a Peer Career Coach (PCC) or Graduate Assistant (GA) during drop-in hours on campus.
Update your EagleLink and LinkedIn profiles.
Register for email alerts from EagleLink to receive important career-related information while you are abroad.
Be on the lookout for monthly Study Abroad Newsletters and other communications from the Career Center highlighting career-related advice, events, and strategies you can utilize. Be sure to notify the Career Center if you do not receive your newsletters.
Continue to network: arrange informational interviews and attend career networking events, information sessions, and other events to establish connections with potential employers. Remember that networking is the most effective job search strategy!
Identify skills to develop when you go abroad by conducting a “skills audit.”
Pick classes and choose extracurricular activities that will help develop these skills or connect strongly to your industry(ies) of interest.
Reflect on the following questions:
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Which skills do you want to develop while abroad?
For additional resources, refer to General Tips and Resources.
You will have a unique experience while you are abroad, but when you come back home it can be easy to forget the details of your experience. Remember to update your professional credentials to reflect your abroad experience. Furthermore, it is important to be mindful of application deadlines for summer jobs or internships, keeping in mind that some industries hiring timelines have shifted – some are in the fall, while others are in the spring. Establishing connections with potential employers and preparing yourself academically can also go a long way in determining your career-related success.
Read the monthly Study Abroad Newsletters from the Career Center highlighting career-related advice, events, and strategies you can utilize while you are abroad. If you do not receive a monthly newsletter, please connect with the Career Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list.
Stay connected with the Career Center via email or by scheduling an appointment with a career coach via Skype.
Keep in touch with job-related contacts at home.
Identify transferable skills and new skills that you are developing.
Experience the international work culture abroad by keeping up-to-date with industry news in your host country and consider participating in an internship or volunteer experience with an organization that interests you.
Employ job search strategies.
Complete and submit job or internship applications for your return to the U.S. Be sure to keep track of deadlines and ensure that your documents reflect your time studying abroad by expanding on that experience. Be mindful that some summer opportunities may conflict with your study abroad schedule.
You can still take advantage of different recruiting resources and employer events that occur on campus. You can participate in the On-Campus Recruiting (OCR) process as some employers will conduct interviews over Skype. Students can access a list of employers from Career Fairs and Networking Nights in EagleLink and use that as a resource to target companies for your internship or job search. When contacting employers, inform them that you are abroad so that they can plan accordingly. Please note that some hiring timelines are different for various industries. Some industries recruit heavily in the fall (e.g. consulting, banking, finance, accounting) while others recruit heavily in the spring (e.g. government, social service, non-profit). Connect with your Career Coach to find out when your industry hiring timeline is so that you can plan accordingly
Attend virtual career fairs when possible through CareerEco and other providers.
- Take time to reflect by keeping a journal, blogging, or other means. Write down experiences, both positive and negative, from your time abroad and consider what you have learned from these experiences.
- Use industry-related handouts.
Internships - An international internship can provide you with training related to your college major and career goals. Internships are available in practically every country in the world for most industries, although these opportunities are very competitive. The benefits include being immersed in an international atmosphere, gaining a competitive advantage in the international job market, and having the opportunity to learn valuable and transferable job skills. If an international internship is desired, start networking right away. It may take additional time to secure an experience since you will be navigating in a new country and processing paperwork to extend your stay.
Eight-week, international internship programs in several cities around the world are available over the summer through the Office of International Programs. Learn more on the Summer Internships page.
Volunteering - Volunteering abroad is a great way to acquire experience with humanitarian or service-oriented organizations. Overseas volunteer positions may be short-term and typically do not require official working documents, which makes them a much more accessible opportunity for most students.
Post-graduation - If you are interested in working abroad after graduation, you will need to obtain a visa and other important credentials. Check out the resources section for additional information.
After an incredible adventure abroad, you are back in the States and looking for a new professional experience. Identify the skills you have gained during your time abroad through self-reflection, paying close attention to experiences that were particularly meaningful. Practice articulating your experience to potential employers through practice interviews and your professional documents.
Shape your study abroad narrative by reflecting on the skills and questions included in the next section. Practice verbalizing your experience to friends and family: move beyond describing your time abroad as “great” to articulating the value of the experience to your personal and professional development. Be prepared to talk about your time abroad in interviews and utilize specific experiences to illustrate specific skills you developed. Remember not to sell yourself short: highlight and explain your experiences in professional documents and do not be afraid to bring them up in interviews.
Review the list of key competencies or skills and develop examples of how you gained these abroad. If you are applying for a specific position, identify the skills listed in the job description and create examples from your international experience that exemplify those skills.
Use the reflection prompts below in Section 4 to formulate your responses and stories. You can use the S.T.A.R. method (Situation, Task, Action & Result) to help you craft your stories about your abroad experiences.
Update your resume: Your study abroad program can be emphasized in different sections of your resume (Education, Experience, Skills, Clinical, or Activities) depending on the focus of your program and your professional goals.
If you participated in a study abroad program, list the program in your Education section or in its own section called Study Abroad Experience. If it’s the latter, ensure you expand on your abroad experience by using 2-3 bullet points about your experience abroad. They can include the courses completed and accomplishments achieved.
If the experience included volunteering or an internship, rather than under activities or other experiences, list the experience as a professional experience rather than as an activity.
If you worked abroad, but it was not particularly related to your intended profession, list it as work experience, but concentrate on the cross-cultural learning.
If your resume includes a section for skills or proficiencies, include specific skills acquired or improved upon while abroad.
Be sure to change present tense verbs to the past tense when discussing your study abroad experience and include your GPA and relevant coursework, if applicable.
Also, include relevant details pertaining to any volunteer or professional experience, scholarships received, projects contributions, or other skills realized abroad. (http://www.gooverseas.com/blog/study-abroad-resume-tips) (http://studiesabroad.com/alumni/careerResources)
Enhance your cover letter: Elaborate on your study abroad experience, particularly if you are applying to a job at an international organization or with a company that values cross-cultural skills. Even if your career goals do not include a specific international dimension at this time, you can promote the general transferable skills, such as flexibility, independence, confidence, problem solving, and the ability to deal with ambiguity. Consult the skills list below for additional suggestions.
Improve your LinkedIn profile: Adding your study abroad experience to your LinkedIn profile is similar to adding it to your resume: you may add it to Education, Experience, Activities, or Skills, depending on the program. You may also consider joining groups of alumni from your university abroad or international program, as well as participating in group discussions to learn from fellow alumni.
If you are interested in working or studying abroad again post-graduation, begin researching potential opportunities as soon as possible. It is far easier to network and search for study abroad programs or jobs while you are in that host country. Consult the Career Center and BC alumni networks.
Schedule an appointment with the Career Center through EagleLink upon your return to help you ‘unpack’ your abroad experience.
What skills or proficiencies did you acquire or enhance while you were abroad?
Skills that professionals with international experiences cite as being particularly useful in their careers, as well as employers having an appreciation of potential candidates who have acquired the following abilities include:
Enhanced cultural awareness, sensitivity to customs, and cultural differences
Global perspective and awareness of political, economic, and cultural issues
Foreign language proficiency
Adaptability/ability to step out of one’s comfort zone
Ability to identify and achieve goals
Communication skills: ability to listen, observe, and interact with others
Increased confidence and initiative
Ability to maintain an open mind and be tolerant of others
Clarification of goals and improved self-awareness
The questions below will help you reflect more deeply on your abroad experience.
What were the most memorable aspects of your time abroad? What were the most challenging aspects? How do these experiences illustrate personal and professional growth that you can articulate in an interview, cover letter, or personal statement?
Share an example of how you set priorities to achieve a desired outcome in your study abroad experience.
How did your study abroad experience enhance your knowledge, skills, and understanding of your intended career field?
What assets might international study yield as opposed to someone who studied domestically?
Share an example of how your international experience has improved your skills when communicating with others. How might this make you a better professional in your field?
How did you adjust /adapt to your new cultural surroundings?
Share an international experience in which you had to resolve a conflict or solve a problem. What skills and personal qualities did you tap into? How did the experience help you grow as a person?
What was the most significant thing you learned about yourself through your study abroad experience? Why?
How did you develop intercultural skills while abroad? Did you work with students from different cultures on group projects or other extracurricular activities? How did you adapt to a different workplace or classroom style?
For additional information on semester and summer abroad programs, visit the Office of International Programs website.
GoinGlobal is a research tool packed with country-specific information and resources to facilitate an international job search.
If you are off site (not on the BC campus), you will be prompted to put in your Agora credentials.
Transitions Abroad has a goal of providing information that would enable open-minded and empathetic travelers to actually meet the people of other countries, to learn about their culture, to speak their language, and to "transition" to a new level of understanding and appreciation for our fascinating world.
Global Career Compass is a consulting practice focused on global workforce trends and the impact of education abroad experiences on student career development.
Global Edge International Internship Directory is a reference guide to match students with international internship opportunities