There are many reasons students decide to study abroad. Whether that’s to improve their language skills, or simply experience a new culture. Studies show that those who study abroad are less likely to be unemployed, and more likely to graduate with a first-class degree. But how do you market your study abroad to employers in an interview? You can’t simply say ‘it was great’ – you must show that it has had a direct benefit.
The key to marketing your year abroad is recalling experiences that you had and articulating them to others. You should reflect on circumstances that you were in, tell employers what you learnt from this and how you could transfer these skills to the job. Think about how you can show your prospective employer that you are resilient. Were there any obstacles which you overcame that you were able to retain a positive focus?
If you decided to study abroad to improve your language skills, a year abroad shows employers that you have the ability to learn a language in a short space of time. It demonstrates that you’re able to adapt to a totally new lifestyle with an open-mind. As firms are becoming more and more culturally diverse, it shows your able to communicate with a culturally diverse team.
Studying abroad takes a great deal of confidence. You will gain self-confidence and independence. It shows you’ve taken a risk and you’re able to put yourself out there. These are qualities that almost every employer looks for. With less than 20% of UK students undertaking a ‘study abroad’ as part of their degree, it really sets you aside from others. With an increasingly globalised economy, employers are hopeful that workers are geographically mobile. Your willingness to move abroad shows your willingness to work away, which is another thing that will make you all the more employable.
During the skills session, we were asked to use a basic model to construct a paragraph of what we could say in an interview. This is known as the ‘BUT’, ‘ALSO’, ‘AND’ model. Mine was the following:
‘’On my year abroad, I studied for one semester at ICADE, a leading Spanish business school, followed by one six-month work placement in Madrid. It was a culture shock, but I was able to be open-minded and adapt to a totally new culture. I also developed competency in my language skills in a short period of time. I gained confidence in my speaking skills and my ability to introduce myself to people in an unfamiliar setting.’’
Another thing you could talk about in an interview is how you were learning in a different environment with a different style of teaching. This is something that you have to do in the working world.