Set yourself apart! Participation in a study abroad program shows employers that you have unique experience,
skills and qualities. Developed through collaboration between Illinois State University (ISU)’s Office of International
Studies and Programs (OISP) and the Career Center, this resource aims to provide past participants of study abroad
programs with helpful information on how to market their experiences for professional development purposes. Equally
important, a goal of this resource is to help past participants better understand the impact their study abroad
experiences may have on career goals and other aspirations. This document will help students learn how to incorporate
study abroad into:
A résumé;
A cover letter;
An interview;
International networking; and
Searches for additional international opportunities
“Numerous studies confirm the value that employers place upon applicants who have international experience. But what employers
are specifically looking for are candidates who have articulated the lessons that were learned and the intercultural and interpersonal
skills that were strengthened as a result of studying abroad.” –Martin Tillman, American Institute for Foreign Study
Résumés …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….… Page 2
Cover Letters ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 4
Interviews ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..……… Page 7
International Networking ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 8
Additional International Opportunities …………………………………………………………………...…………… Page9
Contact Information ……………………………………………………………………………………….……………………… Page 10
References and Recommended Resources …………………………………………………………………............ Page 11
This section is dedicated to various suggestions for incorporating your study abroad experience into your
résumé. Résumés are very important to have in modern day professional culture. Knowledge and skills acquired from
participation in a study abroad program is experience that not every other applicant will be able to offer. Be sure to list
that experience so you gain an employer’s attention and overall interest in your candidacy.
General Tips:
 Adjust your résumé/curriculum vitae (CV) to the audience.
 Research whether or not you need to develop an alternate résumé when applying to international positions.
 For example: If applying for a position abroad, be sure to research if that country’s professional standard
is something other than the American résumé.
 Include study abroad in either “Education” section or “Relevant Experience” section.
 Include additional activities you may have participated in such as volunteer work, research, professional
development opportunities, etc.
 Revise, revise, revise! In addition to yourself, a handful of academic and professional contacts should revise
your résumé multiple times to improve it and ensure there are no errors.
Skills and Qualities to Highlight that Are Gained from Studying Abroad:
 Inter/Intrapersonal relations
 Independence and self-reliance
 Openness to new ideas and practices
 Ability to adapt to new and multiple environments
 Political and economic awareness due to a global perspective on life
 Understanding of diversity and appreciation for cultural similarities and differences
 Comprehension of the international dimensions of your major field of study
 Function with a high level of ambiguity
 Communication
 Foreign language skills
 Ability to communicate despite language-related and cultural barriers
 Learning through listening, observing and practicing
 Ability to identify and address needs and concerns of diverse groups of people
 Organizational development
 Time management and organizational skills
 Enhanced leadership
 Ability to set, identify and achieve goals
 Ability to prioritize and work efficiently with deadlines
 Ability to take initiative and have confidence to take risks
 Awareness of your profession’s system in another country
 Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 2
How to Highlight Study Abroad on Your Résumé:
Example 1: Use a format similar to this one if your résumé has minimal space, if international experience is irrelevant to
the position applying for, or if you did not complete research, an internship or volunteer work.
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
May 2016
Cumulative Grade Point Average: 3.5, Dean’s List
Semester Study Abroad in Australia
Fall 2014
Example 2: You may choose to use a format similar to this if your experience incorporated research work.
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois
Bachelor of Science in Accounting
May 2015
Cumulative Grade Point Average: 3.4
University of Limerick
Independent research project: Sustainability Accounting and Reporting
Limerick, Ireland
August 2014-December 2014
Example 3: Use this format if your coursework is relevant to the position you are seeking, or was heavily academic.
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Minor in Management
May 2015
Major Grade Point Average: 3.8, Dean’s List
Relevant Coursework: International Management, Organizational Strategy, Operations Management
Shanghai, China
College of Business Exchange Program
September 2013-December 2013
Relevant Coursework: Chinese Language, Business Culture in China, Chinese Economy and Monetary System
Example 4: You may choose to use a format similar to this if you wish to highlight a practical experience (such as an
internship, volunteer work, independent research, etc.) or language proficiency.
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois
Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Management, Minor in German May 2015
Rheinishce Friedrich-Whihelms-Universität
German Language Immersion Program
Bonn, Germany
September 2013-May 2014
Deutsche Telekom
Bonn, Germany
Telecommunications Intern
January 2014-May 2014
 Collaborated with a seven member team at a global technology company
 Improved employee support for a new collaboration platform, Telekom Social Network
 Presented to Telekom employees on advantages of the Telekom Social Network
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 3
This section is dedicated to multiple pieces of advice regarding how to utilize your study abroad experience in a cover
letter. Cover letters are what draw an employer’s attention to read your résumé more thoroughly. Be sure to write a
strong cover letter so the employer gives greater consideration to your candidacy.
General Tips:
 Always consider how the experiences you are writing about are relevant to the position you are applying for.
 Do not focus your entire cover letter on your study abroad participation! Instead, use a couple of examples of
relevant experiences and what you gained from them.
 Do not copy or repeat what is on your résumé! Instead, enhance the most important parts or an experience not
previously mentioned.
 Revise, revise, revise! In addition to yourself, a handful of academic and professional contacts should revise
your cover letter multiple times to improve it and ensure there are no errors.
Cover Letter Examples from Baldwin Wallace University:
 Living in Costa Rica enhanced my ability to communicate and interact effectively with the local Latino
population--a population with which this position works very closely.
 My studies in Japan provided me with a great insight into the cultural differences that influence consumers in
different countries and will improve my ability to contribute to international marketing initiatives.
 My experience of living in a foreign country strengthened my ability to communicate with others and taught me
how to be more flexible, patient, and intuitive. ...The skills I developed while living abroad will positively
contribute to my work at _________________.
Cover Letter Examples from Gustavo Adolphus College:
 My experience studying abroad in Germany for a semester has provided me with a cross-cultural perspective of
information systems. My subject knowledge plus my ability to adapt to changing environments will make for a
smooth transition from the classroom to the business environment.
 My study abroad experience is also an asset because I learned to view problems from culturally different
perspectives. Additionally, I am able to adapt to changing environments with ease and work with people of
diverse backgrounds.
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 4
How to Highlight Study Abroad on Your Cover Letter:
An example from Gustavo Adolphus College
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 5
A second example from Gustavo Adolphus College
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 6
This section is dedicated to the numerous techniques and tips that could be used to effectively market your
study abroad experience during a job interview. Per Baldwin Wallace University, “Study abroad provides exceptional
opportunities for you to acquire the necessary tools to compete in an increasingly global economy. Therefore, you must
learn to effectively communicate the unique skills and experiences from your international exposure to differentiate
yourself from other candidates.” Interviews may be your best chance to influence an employer’s decision to hire you.
General Tips:
Use the skills you listed in your résumé and cover letter to create your interview responses
Craft stories ahead of time. Practice your elevator speech!
Try to avoid short answers such as a yes or no. You must elaborate on your experiences but be concise.
Do not focus every response on your study abroad experience unless it is a position that is directly relevant.
Avoid mixing professional and personal goals.
 For example: When responding, you should emphasize desired professional learning outcomes and
avoid personal goals such as make friends, travel to more places and try new foods.
 Prepare yourself for a variety of interviews (by phone, in person, on Skype, etc.).
 Speaking about study abroad would be beneficial for not only an interview for a full-time position, but also a
part-time position, internship or graduate school.
 Practice, practice, practice! Preparation is always a plus!
Potential Questions and Answers:
 Could you tell me about yourself and why you are interested in this position?
 Give background information
 Talk about academic and professional endeavors
 Speak about what draws you to this position
 Let them know how this position fits your goals and can enhance your professional development
 What makes you different than other candidates? Why you?
 Be sure to explain how and why you fulfill this position’s requirements and preferences
 Include a lesson learned while studying abroad that separates you from the rest of the applicant pool
 Please share a time in which you experienced a conflict. How did you resolve or manage it?
 Give an example of one of your most challenging life situations or experiences while studying abroad
and how you resolved or managed it
 Have questions for the employer!
 Just as employers want to get to know you, you should want to get to know them and the position
 Great questions to ask employers include but are not limited to:
 More information about specific job duties
 Supervision, leadership, structure and teamwork of the office, department, group, team, etc.
 Both the most rewarding and most challenging parts of this position
 Negotiating remuneration and time off (approach these topics very carefully)
 Other negotiations such as start and end dates, employee benefits, retirement benefits, etc.
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 7
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2014), networking is “the exchange of information or services among
individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”
We believe networking on an international level is important in order to maintain contact with previous faculty
members and peers abroad as well as potential employers and colleagues for the future. If you desire to return abroad
to live and work, networking is highly recommended.
General Tips:
 Create your network by identifying contacts both inside and outside of the United States.
 Keep track of the contact information for faculty members, administrators and peers from your host institution
and the study abroad office or company that you have established great rapport with.
 Stay in touch with contacts by sending periodic follow up emails to let them know what you have been up to,
what your goals are and to learn what is going on in your previous host community.
 Conduct job searches in your previous host community and/or other areas and countries.
 Contact companies you are interested in working for whenever you encounter a position of interest.
Additionally, a great way to be connected to professionals in the field of international education is through
involvement with professional associations. For example, attending regional, national and international conferences
would introduce you to a variety of people and opportunities. The following organizations are recommended for
individuals who desire to establish and continue connections with professionals in international education.
NAFSA: National Association of International Educators
The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA)
International Education Knowledge Community
The National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE)
The Forum on Education Abroad
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 8
Study Abroad Again:
ISU students may study abroad for up to 12 months and earn academic credit. This is equivalent to two semesters and
one summer. Many past participants feel that one term was not enough. If you are interested in studying abroad for
another term, please visit our office or call us at (309) 438-5276 to set up an appointment with a Study Abroad Advisor.
Peace Corps:
Many ISU students choose to apply the skills they acquired while pursuing their degree and studying abroad by joining
the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps accepts and places individuals, with a variety of skills and expertise, and from various
educational backgrounds (i.e. majors, minors), in locations all over the world.
Joining the Peace Corps is a two year commitment and an intense application process. However, those who join find it is
one of the most rewarding experiences in life. To learn more about Peace Corps, you can visit www.peacecorps.gov.
If your future plans include graduate school, you should consider the Peace Corps Master’s International Program. It
allows you to complete a Peace Corps Fellow experience in conjunction with a master’s degree program. For more
information you can visit www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/learn/whyvol/eduben/mastersint/.
The Peace Corps Master’s International Program at ISU combines graduate study with Peace Corps service to prepare
participants for an effective career in community and economic development. For more information regarding ISU’s
offerings please visit soa.illinoisstate.edu/graduate/ and http://stevensoncenter.org/mi/.
Service Trips:
If you desire an experience that heavily focuses on completing community service, you may want to check with a
community-serving institution, church or religiously affiliated organization in your local area. Whether spiritual, religious
or secular, it is recommended that you conduct this search independently. This is the best way for you to find an
experience that best fits your aspirations, values and beliefs.
For example, you could research opportunities such as TECHO. TECHO is a youth-led organization in Latin American and
Caribbean countries that completes community service projects for families living in poverty. Many TECHO projects
consist of constructing a home for homeless families. For more information, you may visit
Leadership & Service Office:
The Leadership & Service Office at ISU offers international service opportunities over winter and summer breaks.
Previous locations include Mexico, Guatemala and Ghana. For more information regarding these opportunities, visit the
Leadership & Service Office on the 2nd floor of the Bone Student Center or call (309) 438-7346.
Volunteering and Teaching English Abroad:
It is common for students to want to live abroad and volunteer or teach English for a short or long period of time
following graduation. There are numerous companies you can investigate that offer such opportunities. Many of them
offer certification in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), teaching English as a second language
(ESL), teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), etc. Although independent trips are possible too, it is recommended
that such experiences are completed through a professional and accredited company to ensure safety and security. If
you are interested in such opportunities, please visit www.goabroad.com and www.gooverseas.com. These are two
recommendations out of several possibilities. Searching independently may be your best option for finding what you are
looking to accomplish.
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 9
Fulbright Program:
Created in the 1940’s, the Fulbright Program is a merit-based international exchange program that offers grants to teach
English, conduct research and complete other special projects. The U.S. Student Program is a special unit of the Fulbright
Program that caters its opportunities to graduating seniors, college graduates and young professionals. For additional
information about applying for a grant through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, please visit us.fulbrightonline.org/.
Au Pair:
Many students accept work as an au pair or nanny abroad. This consists of living/working with a family and immersing
oneself fully into the culture and lifestyle of a family abroad. Many education majors choose to do this and/or those
looking to become fluent in a language other than English. There are many organizations that facilitate au pair work.
However, the application process is intense and there are various background checks required in order to be placed with
a family. Some resources to education yourself about becoming an au pair include:
 InterExchange (www.interexchange.org) ;
 British Au Pair Agencies Association (www.bapaa.org.uk/displaypage.asp?page=1); and
 Au Pair Link in various countries (all Au Pair Link websites vary)
Employment Visas:
Depending on your individual situation, an employment visa may or may not be required in order to work legally in your
anticipated country. The employment visa process may be completely different than the student visa process you may
have completed in the past. However, similar to the student visa process, every country’s employment visa process
varies. We recommend that you consult with your intended country’s embassy in your local region.
For additional information regarding your study abroad
experience, international education and additional
opportunities abroad, you may contact the Office of
International Studies and Programs (OISP).
For additional information regarding résumés, cover
letters, job searching, networking and interview
preparation, you may contact the Illinois State
University Career Center.
Office of International Studies and Programs
308 Fell Hall
Campus Box 6120
Normal, Illinois 61790-6120
Phone: (309) 438-5276
Email: [email protected]
Website: internationalstudies.illinoisstate.edu
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm
Illinois State University Career Center
110 Student Services Building
Campus Box 2520
Normal, Illinois 61790-2520
Phone: (309) 438-0230
Email: [email protected]
Website: careercenter.illinoisstate.edu
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 10
Baldwin Wallace University. (n.d.). Study abroad and your resume and cover letter. Retrieved from
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on a resume. Retrieved from
Globalinks Learning Abroad. (n.d.). Why should you study abroad? Retrieved from
Gustavo Adolphus College. (n.d.). Cover letter example 2. Retrieved from
Gustavo Adolphus College. (n.d.). Cover letter notes. Retrieved from
IES Abroad. (n.d.). Study abroad: A lifetime of benefits. Retrieved from http://www.iesabroad.org/studyabroad/news/study-abroad-lifetime-benefits
Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University. (n.d.). Leveraging your study abroad experience. Retrieved from
International Office. (n.d.). Study abroad: How to market your study abroad experience. Retrieved from
Lehigh University. (n.d.). Marketing your study abroad experience. Retrieved from
Merriam-Webster (2014). Networking. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/networking
Studyabroad.com. (2013, February 4). Effective marketing of your study abroad experience to employers: Transferring
the skills and knowledge you learned abroad. Retrieved from http://www.studyabroad.com/articles/effectivemarketing-of-your-study-abroad-experience-to-employers.aspx
Studyabroad.com. (2012, January 12). Showcasing study abroad on your resume: How to properly articulate your study
abroad experience. Retrieved from http://www.studyabroad.com/articles/showcasing-study-abroad-on-yourresume.aspx
Studyabroad.com. (n.d.). Why study abroad? Study abroad from my perspective. Retrieved from
Tillman, M. (2013). Student guide to study abroad & career development. Stamford, CT: American Institute For Foreign
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 11
308 Fell Hall
Campus Box 6120 | Normal, Illinois 61790-6120
(309) 438-5276 | [email protected]
110 Student Services Building
Campus Box 2520 | Normal, Illinois 61790-2520
(309) 438-0230 | [email protected]
Study Abroad for Professional Development 101: How to Market Your Experiences | 12