Study Abroad

Career Connection

You’ve had an amazing experience abroad, and now it’s time to think about your next step.  Whether you decide to start a job search (either in the United States or abroad), apply to graduate school, or simply take some time off, it will be helpful to be able to articulate the skills you learned abroad and incorporate these into your résumé and a job interview. 


When asked: “So, what did you learn while you were abroad?” do you find the question difficult to answer?  Several good topics to discuss include increased language competency, deeper knowledge of the host country and culture, acquisition of overseas "survival skills," and an ability to interact successfully with a variety of people in new situations.  You learned first-hand how to strengthen your adaptability, independence, problem solving skills, and more. According to a study done by the Career Services and Placement Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University, employers associate resourcefulness and adaptability with having studied or interned abroad.This combination of skills is sometimes referred to as your  "Global Competency", Global IQ", or "International IQ".


This can be impressive, but it is seldom the whole story. Few students are actually aware of the degree to which the overseas experience may have changed their way of thinking and acting. Many of these changes are subtle and unconscious. Usually, it takes time after returning from study abroad to realize the full extent of the impact. An overseas experience can create new interests, abilities, linguistic and cultural skills that are not only valuable to the individual, but very attractive to potential future employers.  How do you articulate this and what other resources are available?





Articulating What You Have Learned


Below is a list of skills typically acquired through a study abroad experience.  Which apply to you?


Skills and Qualities Associated with Studying Abroad

Cultural awareness/sensitivity Managing/organization skills
Appreciation of diversity Lead others in formal or informal groups
Learn through listening and observation Relationship building skills
Sense of humor Coping with rejection
Adaptability - flexibility and comfort with ambiguity Ownership of projects
Ability to make "transitions" Self-reliance
Initiative and willingness to take risks Open-mindedness
Time management skills Assertiveness, self-confidence
Accept responsibility Independence
Creativity Goal orientation – clear-cut goals and objectives
Interest in continuous learning Motivation to achieve
Communicate despite barriers Positive outlook toward hardship and adversity
Learn quickly/probelm solve/think on your feet Resourcefulness

Ability to handle stress and difficult situations

Adventurous spirit, curiosity

Conduct research despite language and cultural differences 


Also check out the links below for more inspiration in articulating what you've learned.



Helpful resources




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