What professional skills have you gained on your InterExchange experience? It’s an important question to ask yourself.
Employers around the world are looking for staff with “cultural intelligence” and “global workforce skills.” They want people who know how to think and act in a complex, diverse environment. They want people who have the same skills that you learned while abroad.
So what are those skills? And how do you know if you learned them?
1. Independence and Critical Thinking
Ability to think for yourself, to identify and solve problems.
As you navigate your life in the U.S., you have to rely on yourself to find answers to your questions and to solve problems. Did you take risks? Welcome challenges? How did you tackle the daily problems, big and small?
2. Cross-Cultural Communication
Ability to effectively communicate with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
It’s not just a new country and language – it’s a completely new way of doing things. A new culture. What did you learn about different cultures on your program? How did those differences challenge you in your day-to-day life? Any examples of how you managed cultural differences to reach common goals?
3. Flexibility and Adaptability
Ability to adjust to the unfamiliar norms, situations, and customs.
When everyone around you is doing it a different way, you have to adjust. What are some big differences you were forced to adapt to? Do you have examples of how you adapted to life and work in the U.S., especially when it was different than what you are used to?
4. Open-Mindedness and Sensitivity
Ability to collaborate with people who have viewpoints and ways of thinking that are different than your own.
When you’re living and working side-by-side with someone who thinks differently than you, you have to learn to get along. Did you deal with co-workers or roommates from different backgrounds? How did you learn about and respect these differences? What was a situation in which you were forced to open your mind to a new belief or way of thinking?
5. Foreign Language
Ability to listen, understand, speak, read, and write in another language.
Immersion in a foreign language – whether English or another language – is the best way to truly learn it. How did your language skills improve on your program? What was most difficult about being immersed in a different language? How did you overcome the frustrations?