September 28, 2023, by Leah Sharpe
How To Showcase Your Year Abroad in Interviews
By Grace Smyth, Spanish and Contemporary Chinese Studies student blogger
So you’ve been on a year abroad? The skills and experiences you have had are some of the most valuable that you can demonstrate in job applications and the interview process! Interviews are daunting so preparing some ideas of how you can showcase what you have learnt will really help to lower your stress levels.
Before your interview, create a list of examples of key skills you have developed during your year abroad and any experiences that are relevant to your personal or professional development. Thinking of specific examples can be difficult, so here’s some prompts to help you…
Did the language barrier help develop your resilience when locals didn’t understand you? Even a situation as simple as missing the bus or the inevitable experience of getting lost in your first few weeks where you had to ask locals or travel to a different place are great examples of resilience.
Did you have to work hard and achieve a specific grade to qualify for the study abroad experience? Some employers may think that studying abroad is just an opportunity to go on holiday. Show them that you worked hard to get there!
Your experience abroad shows your adaptability and flexibility so be sure to convey that. Did you have to learn how to drive on the other side of the road or adapt to specific aspects of the new culture you were surrounded by? Make sure your employer can see how you are able to adapt to new situations as this is a key skill that you will need in the workplace.
How has your confidence developed? Give exact examples of how your confidence has improved whether that be through speaking to strangers to ask for directions, haggling for clothes in markets to get discounts, or even just being able to enjoy your time spent on your own.
Not only may your communication have developed through actually learning another language but you have most likely been in situations where words weren’t enough and you had to rely on context, actions and body language. All of these scenarios have increased your non-verbal and visual communication skills which are key skills you will need in the workplace.
Problem-solving is one of the most sought-after skills in graduates. Spending time abroad in new environments and cultures teaches you to be creative in your problem solving. For example, have you had to try and come up with different ways to phrase things or even resorted to more creative methods such as drawing what you mean?
On your year abroad there are countless ways you will have developed your leadership skills. Whether that was choosing to be the spokesperson at the bus station ordering your tickets or in restaurants if something didn’t arrive. Being the person who steps up is a key demonstration of your leadership potential.
Cultural awareness is a key skill that employers are looking for in a world that is more internationally connected than ever. Experiencing a new culture and interacting with people from other countries all helps to develop your cultural awareness, you have not only become aware of the cultural nuances of other countries, but also have an outside view of your own country and culture, offering a new perspective.
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