International Work and Volunteer Experience + Your Resume = Standing Out From the Crowd


3 minutes

How can you have a meaningful experience abroad that adds to your resume after you graduate?

Gain valuable skills and go on the adventure of a lifetime![/caption]

With an increasingly difficult job market for recent graduates in the U.S., any way to differentiate yourself from the crowd is important. A couple of years ago, the people were talking about the importance of raising the numbers of young Americans who study, travel and participate in some type of experience abroad.

Well, in 2013, the number of college students going abroad has increased exponentially. You may have already gone abroad and you probably know a lot of people who have as well. So, how can going abroad really help you in your career goals after you graduate?

There is no question that any experience abroad is an important component of a professional skills set in our very global world today. Studies, surveys from executive search firms and researchers from the last decade have all endorsed the benefits of experience abroad.

This article from Florida State University is just one of a long line of resources that say going abroad will benefit you when looking for a job, continuing your studies after graduation and with your overall interpersonal communication skills.

From Florida State University News article:

A recent study shows that students who have studied abroad in college find jobs related to their majors faster following graduation—and sometimes get paid at higher salaries. In the International Education of Students (IES) Abroad survey, all but 10 percent of graduates who had studied abroad became employed within six months of becoming alumni, and over half of the jobs received related to their college majors.

Most of these young adults also received jobs that were full time rather than part time with starting salaries of $35,000. Meghan Greene, the marketing director for FSU's International Programs, said international study may be the deciding factor for hire.

"Often, employers are looking for candidates with international experience, or when they are comparing candidates, those with international experience will help them stand out," Green said. "Having that on a resume really can boost its quality."

But, and this is an increasingly important aside, it is recently more important to not just study abroad and travel, but to have a meaningful experience that will add directly to your skills set that sets young graduates apart from the rest.

In August 2012, NPR featured an interview with Mark Salisbury called, The Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, Salisbury stresses the importance of more targeted, educational programs abroad.

Many young people study or volunteer abroad with a group of other North Americans who speak English, are in the same age group and have very similar backgrounds. Often times, this happens with a group from the same college or university, religious group or association or club. These experiences can be fun and enlightening. But, it is also hard to really get out of your comfort zone and experience all a new country has to offer when surrounded by a large group of your peers.

With international work and volunteer programs for North Americans, like the ones InterExchange Working Abroad offers, participants can put their interests or career goals to good use, as well as gain more structured and targeted experience.

For example, if you are interested in journalism or media, doing the Working Abroad Volunteer Argentina program, with options to work with a community newspaper, would be a great way to expand your skills, travel, learn Spanish and live in another country.

Education majors can teach English in Asia and Europe to gain classroom experience, earn money and learn about another country's educational system.

If you want to work in the service or hospitality fields, the Work & Travel Australia and New Zealand program gives participants the freedom to find a position that fits their needs while providing living and job assistance support.

So, if you want to stand out from the crowd when looking for your dream job after graduation, go abroad—with a purpose! Find out more about the great international work and volunteer programs InterExchange Working Abroad offers!

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