Writing About Your Study Abroad Experience

Students study abroad for many reasons: to learn about another culture, to travel, to become more independent, or to gain international experience. Although study abroad students gain many important skills while abroad, most lack the ability to put their experience into words.

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John Cabot University’s Career Services Center holds workshops each semester to prepare students for life after graduation.  Most recently, John Cabot University’s Dean of Academic Affairs hosted an event geared toward the particular challenge of verbalizing personal and professional gains from their summer, semester, or year in Rome when applying for jobs.

As our study abroad students and alumni begin applying for internships and jobs after graduation, they should keep the following points in mind:

  • Take advantage of opportunities that don’t exist back home.  Volunteer for the local refugee shelter, discuss American literature at an Italian public high school through Italy Reads, or intern for an Italian company. These concrete examples will show employers that your experience in Rome was more than a fun cultural experience.
  • Get involved in the community. Break out from the typical American study abroad experience by integrating with JCU’s Italian and international degree seeking students through student organizations, attending university events, or taking part in JCU athletics. Stepping out of your comfort zone will help you develop skills and qualities that will further you in your career and connecting with Italian and international students will build your international network.
  • Match your skills and attributes to the job. Think about what skills employers may be looking for, and emphasize those skills and qualities when crafting your cover letters.
  • Avoid typical resume and cover letter clichés.  Employers will receive hundreds of resumes and cover letters from applicants who claim to be independent, flexible, and sensitive to cross-cultural differences.  To make your letter stand out, explain the skills you learned while studying at JCU by describing specific situations that allowed you to develop those skills and qualities.
  • Show, don’t tell. Did class discussions with students from all over the world teach you to respect and appreciate different perspectives? Did you learn to frame your arguments differently to effectively communicate with people from different cultural and geographical backgrounds? Did learning to navigate Rome on your own despite language barriers make you more independent? Show it!

For more information about marketing your study abroad experience, read these articles through Ball State University and Willamette University.

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