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How to Sell Your Experience

The Office for Education Abroad and the office of Career Services and Placement offer a presentation on "Unpacking your Education Abroad Experience: How to sell your study abroad experience to employers and graduate schools." This interactive and highly informative session will give you the information and skills you need to effectively present your study abroad experience in your résumé and application cover letters, and during job interviews.

Among other topics, you will learn...

  • How to best place your education abroad experience on your résumé and curriculum vitae
  • How to describe the knowledge, attitudes, and skills you have acquired through study abroad in application cover letters
  • How to link these skills to the requirements of prospective employers and admissions criteria of graduate schools
  • How to highlight your study abroad experience and skills during job interviews
  • How to go about finding a job with a multinational employer

To help you begin reflecting on your experience and thinking about how you can present it in the future, take a look at the following skills/competencies identified by employers that are associated with an international experience that can apply to the workplace (taken from the Collegiate Employment Research Institute Research Brief, March 2008).

  • ability to work independently
  • adapting to situations of change
  • allocating time effectively
  • applying information to new or broader contexts
  • assessing impacts of decisions
  • being dependable
  • communicating ideas in a manner that gains acceptance/agreement
  • conceptualizing a future for oneself/organization
  • conveying ideas verbally
  • gaining new knowledge from experiences
  • identifying new problems/alternative solutions
  • identifying creative possibilities/solutions
  • identifying social/political implications of decisions
  • interacting with people who hold different interests, values, or perspectives
  • resourceful in accomplishing assignments
  • setting priorities
  • understanding cultural differences in the workplace
  • undertaking tasks that are unfamiliar/risky
  • working effectively with co-workers

Continuing Your Experience

There are countless ways to use the interests and skills that you gained while abroad. Be creative in applying what you learned so that your growth can continue:

  • Attend, and submit a proposal to present at, the Learning Abroad Conference. This new event features readings, posters, video, music and performances by students who have returned from international learning experiences.
  • Enter the OEA Essay Contest.
  • Enter the OEA Video Contest.
  • Enter the OEA Photo Contest or the Global Focus Photography Competition.
  • Come to an "Unpacking your Education Abroad Experience" workshop, offered with Career Services and Placement, to learn how to sell your study abroad experience to employers and graduate schools (see previous section).
  • Develop a website for the program.
  • Share your experiences by working as an OEA Peer Adviser.
  • Volunteer for the American Semester Program
  • Participate at the Education Abroad Fair! Ask your program leader or Office for Education Abroad coordinator how you can help staff your program's display or work at the Returnee Table.
  • Work with international students by volunteering in the Office of International Students and Scholars.
  • Connect with MSU's Area Studies Centers - Africa, Asia, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Russia.
  • Attend the Global Opportunities Fair to explore internships; volunteer, work, and teaching opportunities abroad; and internationally-focused careers.
  • Talk about your experience to clubs and groups, including adults and children.
  • Make new friends from all over the world and enjoy free coffee at the International Coffee Hour
  • Join international organizations and clubs.
  • Continue your foreign language or take courses with an international focus.
  • Write for The State News, the Lansing State Journal, or your local home paper.
  • Continue studying your host country by taking related courses, reading international papers, viewing films and videos, writing research papers, etc.
  • Volunteer to work in the community or on campus. Help organizations that support community service and development. Look for groups working with immigrants, refugees, or the aged so that you can use your listening, patience, and empathy skills.
  • Start thinking about when and how you'll go abroad again! You can apply for Fulbright Scholarships to study and conduct research; find employment possibilities where you were abroad; join the Peace Corps; or just return to visit host family and friends.
  • Talk with students from your program or with others who have studied abroad.
  • Explore Phi Beta Delta, the first national honor society dedicated to recognizing scholarly achievement in international education.