Leveraging Your Study Abroad Experience

Your study abroad experiences stick with you even after you have returned to the States.  These experiences can alter your career goals, your understanding of your skills, and your level of knowledge about an industry. Many employers view studying abroad as beneficial. It is up to you to be able to effectively articulate how you have grown, personally and professionally, as a result of your study abroad experience.

Transferable Skills and Attributes Gained Through Study Abroad Experiences

Study abroad experiences foster transferrable skills and attributes that employers value.  The Career Center and the Office of International Education (OIE) encourage study abroad returners to take some time to reflect on their experience.  By reflecting, returners may be able to more easily understand the skills and attributes they gained or improved.

Below are some common transferable skills and attributes students gain from study abroad experiences. Read through the list and make note of those you identify with. Then think of a brief, yet specific, example that illustrates each of the skills/attributes on your list.

Cognitive Skills

  • Learn, utilize, and enhance language abilities
  • Anticipate and manage the needs of others
  • Brainstorm and problem solve

Intercultural Competence

  • Sensitive to other cultural values, norms, customs and communication patterns
  • Appreciation of diversity

Global Perspective

  • Concern with current affairs of other countries

  • Understanding of global interdependence

  • General travel and navigational skills

Interpersonal Skills

  • Empathetic toward other perspectives
  • Effectively participate in group discussions with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Lead others in formal/informal groups
  • Ability to establish rapport quickly

  • Open to new ideas and practices

Intrapersonal Skills

  • Patience
  • Initiative and risk taking
  • Persistence
  • Time management
  • Positively handle stress and difficult situations
  • Learn and adapt quickly

Incorporating Your Study Abroad Experience into Interviews

With practice, examples you have generated from your study abroad experience can help you effectively answer interview questions.

For more information about translating your study abroad experience into interview answers, reference the Career Services Center’s Interviewing Guide.

Including Your Study Abroad Experience in Your Resume

We recommend adding your study abroad experience to your resume as soon as possible after you return, while the experience is still fresh in your mind.  Reflecting on your experiences will aid you in creating bulleted action statements that convey what you have gained from your study abroad experience that you can bring into the workplace.

Here are three different ways you can incorporate your study abroad experiences into your resume:

1. Education Section: Consider including specific skills that are related to your academic experience.


Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Writing Intensive English, May 20xx
Minor in Corporate Communication
Cumulative GPA: 3.xxx/4.0     Major GPA: 3.xxx/4.0     
Ignatius Scholarship for Academic Excellence 

Santa Clara University—Casa de la Solidaridad, San Salvador, El Salvador, Summer 20xx

  • Developed conversational Spanish language skills

2. Experience Section: If you had an internship or volunteer experience while studying abroad you can include it as part of the work experience or volunteer experience section.


Facultad De Filosofia, Madrid, Spain
Intern Teacher Assistant, Fall 20xx

  • Tutored and interacted with five Spanish-speaking students studying English twice weekly
  • Helped implement a mentor program with Marquette students in order to assist Spanish-speaking students with practicing English reading and speaking skills

Marquette Study Center, Madrid, Spain
Study Abroad, Fall 20xx

  • Adapted quickly to Spanish culture and academic system
  • Demonstrated sensitivity to cultural values and differences
  • Improved verbal and written Spanish communication skills


Working Boys Center, Quito, Ecuador
International Service Trip Participant, January 20xx

  • Quickly established rapport with center staff by communicating in Spanish
  • Worked as part of intercultural team to make repairs to facilities

3. Awards Section: Consider including any honors or awards you received as part of studying abroad.


  • Recipient of Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad

For more information about transferrable skills and writing bulleted action statements, reference the Career Center’s Resume, Cover Letter, & References Guide.