Using Your Study Abroad Experience
Want to make the most of your study abroad experience?
Studying abroad is possibly the most valuable preparation for an international work experience. In addition to the language skills and knowledge you gain from your courses, you develop many useful skills while you are abroad, including:
- Listening and observing
- Appreciating diversity
- Understanding/adapting to a new culture or environment
- Communicating effectively despite language barriers
- Thriving in spite of chaos and confusion
- Accepting responsibility
- Developing an international/multicultural perspective
- Acquiring knowledge of national politics and customs
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
- Read this website thoroughly. Many students who study abroad want to return after graduation.
- Research employment opportunities before you leave.
- Investigate possible internship opportunities.
- Speak to your study abroad advisor about volunteer or internship opportunities.
WHILE YOU'RE ABROAD
- Acquire experience in addition to your education.
- Volunteer, get a job or do an internship.
- Visit potential employers such as American organizations with international offices.
- Find out if they hire Americans and what the typical entry-level positions are.
- If they say you must apply for work first in the United States, find out whom you should contact
- If an organization is particularly appealing, ask if you can do an internship before you return to the United States.
- Investigate organizations related to your desired occupation.
- Make an appointment to speak with someone in the agency who is willing to talk to you about the business. Explain that you are an American student and are not looking for employment, but merely want to learn about the occupational field in this country.
- Be sensitive to any cultural differences, however. In America this behavior is quite acceptable, but it may be considered too bold in some countries.
- Be respectful and pleasant and write a thank-you letter to the person with whom you spoke.
- Visit the American Embassy and inquire about opportunities for teaching English as a foreign language, workcamps, or other short-term job opportunities for American students.
MAKE CONNECTIONS FOR FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES
- Develop good relationships with the local contacts you acquire: the family with whom you're staying; the director of the study abroad program; the faculty, etc.
- Keep a written record of all your contacts, both personal and job-related.
- Keep phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, etc.
- Bring home any phone directories, employment guides, newspaper or web employment sites you discovered while abroad.
- If you're studying in one of the countries covered by BUNAC, visit their local office for information about returning to the country and obtaining a work visa
- Go to the American Embassy and investigate the requirements for employment in your country of choice. Find out about the necessary paperwork, visas, etc., you would need if you returned to the country for work.
- Visit the Career Center of the college where you're studying abroad, if one exists.
- Notice the job announcements on the bulletin boards. Ask if you can meet with one of the career counselors to talk about employment opportunities if/when you return.
WHEN YOU RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES
- Keep in touch with the contacts you established while you were abroad.
- Continue to research employment possibilities and use this website to assist you with your search.