Selling Your International Experience

Studying abroad sets you apart from the crowd. Many graduate schools and potential employers seek candidates with international experience because they believe such students have the skills to succeed in a global world. It’s important to know how to best market the knowledge and skills you have gained from your study abroad experience. We encourage you to meet with CDPA to discuss how to do this best—but, for now, here are a few tips.

Capturing Study Abroad on a Professional Resume

You can include your study abroad experience under education or relevant experience. If your experience was heavily academic (large course load, research work, etc.), it may be best to include it under education. However, if you completed a professional internship while abroad, you might choose to include study abroad under relevant work experience. For example:

Study Abroad as Education:

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (2007)
  • BA in Political Science, magna cum laude
  • Thesis: Evolution of Women’s Rights in Argentina
Study Abroad, Institute for the International Education of Students, La Plata, Argentina (2006)
  • Earned 12 credit hours in coursework related to Latin American culture and society.
  • Achieved fluency in Spanish.
  • Produced research project on the effect of birth control on population growth in Argentina.​

Study Abroad as Relevant Experience:

Volunteer ESL Tutor, The Hispanic Center, Pittsburgh, PA (2004 -2007)
  • Developed and implemented lesson plans for ESL adult students.
  • Managed classroom of 10 -15 adults from diverse backgrounds.
Study Abroad, Institute for the International Education of Students, La Plata, Argentina (2006)
  • Established rapport quickly with individuals in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Developed culturally appropriate questionnaire and interviewed 25 rural Argentinean women.
  • Analyzed data using Argentinean software and produced final report on the effect of birth control on population growth in Argentina.

​Other Tips:

Tips for Talking about Study Abroad in an Interview

  1. Adjust your resume to your audience. You likely won’t submit the same resume to a graduate school and to a potential employer.
  2. Focus on your accomplishments and skills. Your resume should focus on the “results” of your study abroad experience, not simply where you went or what you did.
  3. Include any other relevant aspects of your experience, such as volunteer work, independent studies, etc.
  4. Be professional. Talk about your experience and how it relates to potential employment, not about what a great time you had.
  5. Inventory the skills and knowledge you gained from studying abroad prior to the interview. For example, consider:
    • Coursework
    • Professional experience (i.e. an internship)
    • Cross-cultural communication skills
    • Language ability
    • Personal skills related to living abroad (i.e. ability to adapt quickly)
  6. Be specific when talking about what you accomplished or learned. Use the STAR method to answer interview questions:
    • S – Situation: Explain the situation.
    • T – Target: Describe what you wanted to achieve.
    • A – Action: Describe what you did.
    • R – Results: Describe what happened, how things turned out, what you learned, and what you’d do differently if presented the same circumstances.
  7. Focus on your successes and accomplishments while abroad, not challenges that you weren’t able to overcome.
  8. Be positive. Avoid complaining about your host country, family, etc.
  9. Avoid shocking or inappropriate stories, as well as potentially unfamiliar language such as “reverse culture shock” or country-specific lingo.
For more information on how to capitalize on your international experience, please contact Anastasia Lopez, the career services consultant in charge of international careers: