Studying abroad can look great on a resume and sometimes even land you a job or a promotion. In a study by the Institute of International Education, “Those more advanced in their careers more consistently linked study abroad to career growth and reported being hired or promoted based on skills developed through international experience” (Farrugia).1 Your time abroad can cultivate skills that employers wish to see in employees, from communication and interpersonal skills to the ability to understand and work with change and diversity.
Two ways to list your time abroad on a resume:
- If your time abroad was more educational, put it under the “Education” section of your
resume (any Asbury Study Abroad can fit into this category).
- If your time abroad involved more hands-on experience or was primarily an internship,
put it under the “Experience” section of your resume.
While writing your resume, make sure your Study Abroad information contains:
- What dates you went abroad
- What you studied and how your studies were unique
- Any skills you learned or honed while you were there
Example 1 (Education):
Study Abroad, CEA Barcelona, Spain (1/2014-4/2014)
- Completed course work in International Business and Spanish Language/Culture
- Gained fluency in Spanish
- Demonstrated willingness to take risks through enrollment in Spanish-speaking
- Completed research project on cross-cultural management
Example 2 (Experience):
Study Abroad, CEA San José, Costa Rica (1/2014-4/2014)
- Completed international internship at Costa Rican marketing agency
- Gained Spanish language proficiency
- Practiced international business strategies and skills
Active Voice vs. Passive Voice
Active Voice will make you sound much more involved in what you did abroad! Instead of saying something like, “Was enrolled in Spanish-speaking classes,” say “I enrolled in Spanish-speaking classes.”
An easy trick to help with this is seeing if you can add the phrase “by zombies” to the end of a sentence. If the sentence makes sense you are using passive voice.
- “I was enrolled in Spanish-speaking classes (by zombies).”
- Makes sense, is passive.
- “I enrolled in Spanish-speaking classes (by zombies).”
- Does not work, is active.
Cover Letter Tips
Your time abroad can also be used in your Cover Letter, to help show how the skills and experiences you gained abroad could help at the job you are applying for. You can choose how specific to be based on the experience you have had.
- If you are applying for a position at a nonprofit, and during your time abroad you
worked with a nonprofit, it would be smart to mention explicitly what you did.
- e.g. “During my time in Spain, I was the lead organizer on a nonprofit campaign through [insert nonprofit here]. I learned the intricacies of international nonprofit work and learned to work with people while pushing through significant cultural barriers.”
- If you are applying for a position, but you do not have specific examples of the same kind of work, bring up skills you learned instead.
- e.g. “By traveling abroad throughout China, I learned how to quickly adapt to different places and cultures so that I could perform to my best ability.”
1Farrugia. “IIE Study Shows That Studying Abroad Has a Direct Impact on Skills Needed for Career Success.” Iie.org, Institute of International Education, iie.org/employability.