How Studying Abroad Can Help Build Your Mosaic

When you graduate, an employer or graduate school will be interested in ALL of the experiences you had as an undergraduate student. Studying abroad is one that you may be able to showcase, but it is up to you to illustrate why your study abroad experience is relevant and valuable for the job (or degree program) you’ve applied for.

It is essential to go beyond saying “study abroad was great!” Go more in depth. Show that your study abroad experience enabled you to develop and hone transferable skills that can contribute to your personal and career success and that employers seek.

Employers considering new college graduates for job openings are surveyed yearly by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and are asked which attributes they look for on a candidate’s resume.

The top five are:

  • Leadership
  • Ability to work in a team structure
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Strong work-ethic

When reflecting on your study abroad experience, think about specific instances when you demonstrated these skills. For example, maybe you displayed leadership by organizing a group of other students to visit a historical site in another city or country. You would have had to gather the group together, organize times, find the best travel routes, etc.

Studying abroad can also provide more unique experiences and skills that you can showcase in your resume, cover letter, or interview.


Depending on what you did while abroad and where you were, your international experience might have given you a greater understanding of the global workplace and cross-cultural competency, as well as improved foreign language skills, independence, self-reliance, flexibility, and adaptability.

Think about everything you did while you were abroad. Where and with whom did you live? How did you get around? How and with whom did you have to communicate? Did you intern, volunteer, or take classes? For each of these areas, reflect on what you did, what you learned, and what skills you needed.

Next, connect the skills you listed to those an employer is seeking. Determine the best way (resume, cover letter, elevator pitch, interview, etc.) to share your experience in ways that highlight the traits and skills you want to showcase.

Thinking about going abroad or want to see if it is right for you? Attend BU Study Abroad 101 or check out the Study Abroad Office

Already studied abroad and want to know more about how to talk about the transferable skills you gained? Visit the CCD to talk to a staff member about professionalizing your experience.

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