Travelling abroad

May 31, 2019, by Katy Johnson

Five Ways Your Year Abroad Can Maximise Your CV

By Imogen Daldy, final year French and History student blogger

That’s all very well, you might be thinking, if you work in a corporate position on your year abroad. What about if you study? What about if you do a teaching assistantship? Or do au pairing? Or work in a less “business” type job? 

As someone who had all those doubts myself before setting off on my year abroad in France, I’m here to allay your fears. I discovered that it’s not about the specific programme you are employed in whilst you’re abroad; its the invaluable skills you develop from the experience that place you in a desirable position with future employers. Here I have compiled a handy list of qualities that you can talk about on your CV and in job interviews. I studied in France for my whole year and had an amazing time; I was meant to work for the second half, but my placement fell through at the last minute. This brings me onto my first point, resilience. 

1. Resilience 

Even if you have the most amazing year abroad possible, there will naturally be a few obstacles to overcome along the way. The most obvious initial obstacle is of course the language barrier; it might seem ridiculous to be nervous about speaking a language you have been learning for years, but being thrown into a non-English environment can be intimidating! You will face situations like navigating new environments and transport systems, banking abroad, meeting new people, and homesickness. The fact is, you will make it through all this and feel proud of yourself for it; if you can show that you cope well with change and hardship, which will inevitably occur in every field of work, and use them for your benefit, you will be very valuable to an employer. 

2. Global outlook 

In an ever-globalising world, people with a knowledge of a different part of the world will stand out from the crowd. Living, working and/or studying abroad could make you extremely desirable to an employer making or maintaining links with international companies. Even the act of undertaking a year abroad shows an interest in learning about the world and the different ways in which people live and work, above somebody who has not. Added to your language skills, having this outlook will make you the missing international link that the employer has been looking for. This might even lead to you being able to work or live abroad once more in a professional capacity. 

3. International network 

One of the best things about the year abroad is meeting and making friends with so many new people, from the host country, your home country, and from all over the world. Make sure to keep in touch after your year abroad ends; with friends all over the planet, you may find that many unique work and travel opportunities present themselves to you, and perhaps open doors you never knew were there. As a student abroad, I went to as many events for international students as I could, and ended up meeting people from all across Europe, North America and South America. 

4. Communication 

Whether you are doing your year abroad in an English speaking or non-English speaking country, your communication skills will vastly improve. Undoubtedly, there will be times when you need to ask a stranger for help with directions, put yourself out there to make friends or get to know work colleagues, get used to a new language or dialect, or even simply successfully buy a train ticket. Whether you realise it or not, overcoming these small hurdles will massively increase your confidence, spoken language skills, and general communication skills. These are qualities revered by employers in all industries of work. 

5. Independence 

Last but not least, the year abroad instils independence. Yes, you have shown independence by moving away to uni, but moving abroad by yourself is a whole different ball game. It is scary before you go but immensely rewarding too; it takes a huge leap of faith to do this and make it work. A successful year abroad shows that you can go it alone in the world and productively persevere in new and ever-changing situations. If you can do a year abroad as a nervous second year student, you can do the world of work as a confident, independent graduate.  

If you’re looking for more hints and tips on how to make the best of your CV, visit our website to benefit from the Careers and Employability Service expert guidance. 

Posted in CVs and Cover Letters