As I have seen, it can be a bit more complicated and challenging when searching for jobs and internships back home in the US while studying abroad. Just like many other UMD students, my goal for this summer is to land an internship within my desired field. Hopefully a position that proves to be rewarding for my education and my future career aspirations, as well as one with an exciting atmosphere that challenges me and motivates me to grow professionally.
It has been important for me to remember that while seeking out internship opportunities that are posted online, I need to put my very best foot forward. In most cases, other candidates have a current advantage over me because they are available to meet for face-to-face interviews, and showcase themselves ‘as-is’, and in the flesh. Even though many organizations today have switched over their recruitment processes to online formats, it is still crucial for many to continue to conduct in-person interviews, as a means of final selection.
While this may seem to hinder my internship progress, luckily today someone is on my side… technology! Being overseas fifty, even ten years ago, would have been a completely different story. However, with the amazing power of communication tools, I have been able to showcase my skills and abilities, while leveraging my experience and growth abroad, all from the comfort of my desk in London! That being said, it is still a learning process, and I continue to discover the best techniques through a little trial and error. Today, I am going to give a bit of advice on what to keep in focus and convey during interviews, as well as talk about some important documents that will help get your foot in the ‘virtual’ door of some interviews back home.
Remember that study abroad experience can distinguish you from your peers when applying for jobs. The global experience you gain develops qualities that employers highly value, such as:
- The willingness and commitment to adapt to new environments
- The ability to take a different approach and perspective when looking at projects
- The capability to understand and incorporate cultural and global ideas
- The drive and self-confidence to take risks and personally develop
- The ability to collaborate in many different team environments
- The personal investment made to develop culturally and grow individually
Looking at the qualities gained from international experience, it is important to highlight them during the application process as well as during video and phone interviews while abroad.
There are a couple different ways you can format your study abroad experience on a resume, the most popular being listen under your education section. This is a concise way of signifying this experience without having to take up much room on a one-page resume. With that said, keep in mind some of the specific experiences you gained during your travels. If you worked on any projects that relate to your objective, you could add this to a projects section. If you have traveled to multiple countries and have gained language experience, you could possibly add this to a language section. Maybe you had even had a job or position abroad that adds to your resume that can be added to a descriptive experience section. There are many ways to consider adding international experience, just make sure you have the proper format down, you are conveying the message you want, and you are able to balance your resume.
The cover letter is going to be the document where you can really make your study abroad experience pop! The cover letter gives you the opportunity to be more detailed and descriptive about your experiences on your resume, however, always remember that your letter also needs to be tailored to your objective and the specific positions qualifications. This can be a good time to talk about the team skills you have gained, the communication and cultural skills you acquired, or even the individualism and self confidence that emerged from your time abroad. There are many ways you can tailor your cover letter to describing your individual skills and abilities, just keep in mind that it should always be a document that has a specific focus to the position that you are applying for. Hiring managers want to know how you can be a perfect match for their Organization, as well as the new skills and abilities that you can bring to the table.
Because the interview will be conducted over a phone or laptop, remember when introducing yourself, briefly discuss where you are studying abroad, why you chose where you did, and possibly a bit of experience you have already learned. Remember not to be overwhelming with examples and experiences from your travels, but to hit key learning aspects you have developed while incorporating your other relevant experiences. Interviewers may draw questions that specifically relate to your time abroad, or some organizations may just stick to the script. At any rate, remember the S.T.A.R. Method – situation, task, action, and result. By following this process of answering questions, you are able to clearly convey your answer to interviewers, even if you may be a bit nervous. Lastly, of course you always need to thank the interviewer for their time in any interview situation, but it is a nice gesture to convey your appreciation for the accommodations they made in order to hear from you. Your resume and cover letter are what brought you to that point, but it is always crucial to show your appreciation and excitement for the position. Remember to follow up with a personalized thank you letter, and you are on your way!
Regardless of your career path, an experience abroad better prepares you for a global workforce. When it comes to searching for jobs and internships back home, remember to highlight your study abroad experience in your resume and cover letter, as well as discuss the skills you have gained internationally during interviews. Always remember to stop by Career Services (SCC 22) for more information on job search and preparation information, as well as any of your career related needs A to Z!