For many, studying abroad is what students like myself would describe as a “life-changing” experience. Life-changing is a fantastic description, but it may not sound quite as thorough and descriptive as a future employer may like to hear in the professional setting. When a future employer asks me to talk about my study abroad experience the first thing that I automatically want to say is that it was an amazing, life-altering opportunity. Recently, though, I have given this response more thought. Of course it was life-changing, and I know that, but an employer will more than likely find it difficult to relate “life-changing” to how I can successfully contribute to his/her company as a future employee. I concluded that, rather than saying it was an amazing experience, it would be better to summarize the skills I gained abroad and how I would contribute those skills to my future employer’s company. I call these the “skills inventory of my study abroad experience.” Students are often told that studying abroad will set them apart for future work opportunities. If they are anything like me though, after I arrived home from my international experience I was unsure how to best portray my life abroad to a future employer. What skills did I really gain from studying abroad? Well…dozens!! Inventiveness, adaptability, perseverance, perceptiveness, conscientiousness, resourcefulness, flexibility, open-mindedness, communication skills…and the list goes on! Here are the top five that I would share with a future employer: Skills Inventory of my Study Abroad Experience:
1. Cultural awareness / Universal cross-cultural skills – This translates to being open-minded and able to adapt to change. Often times it is difficult to see exactly how our culture functions, day-to-day as well as in the business world, without leaving our culture for a while and experiencing a new one. By being culturally aware it demonstrates that you are able to adapt your behavior and accommodate local...
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