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Career Connection

Now that you've returned, IPS aims to provide guidance for reflecting on your study abroad experience and connect your experiences to your professional objectives.

To achieve that aim, the IPS staff will help you:
  • Reflect on your professional goals related to study abroad 
  • Identify hard skills and soft skills you gained while abroad
  • Take steps to update your resume and practice framing your study abroad experience in conversation
  • Begin using your connections to grow your professional network

You may view the guidebook through the viewer below or download the PDF from the following link: Career Connection

Employers and graduate schools value the skills developed through studying abroad, and they’ll no doubt be interested to hear about the new perspectives you gained for your major while abroad. Hard skills include foreign language proficiency, writing, computer or IT skills, hands-on skills that can be measured. Soft skills include people skills, social skills, etiquette, character and personality traits, attitudes, and emotional intelligence. A sample list of skills earned through study abroad are listed below. Which ones do you most identify with? What would you add to this list?

Communication / Language skills
Global professional social network 
Problem solving
Project management
Decision-making skills
Global world view
Cultural sensitivity
It's not enough to just list skills on a resume or discuss them in general terms. You should be able to talk about every skill you you want to highlight on your resume or in an interview in detail, explain how you improved it through study abroad, and connect it to the job you are applying to. Students should ask themselves the following questions: What am I trying to communicate to a potential employer about my international experience? About its relationship to my academic major? About its relationship to this position? About its relationship to this graduate program? Below are examples on how you can frame the skills you gained from study abroad:

Leadership: Strong leadership and team management skills are important in almost any environment. Knowing how to lead and inspire the people around you can help you establish stronger relationships, whether you’re working on a class project with a group of international students or completing an internship abroad.

How to sell it:
- Took a leadership role on a campus team or organization while abroad
- Organized an excursion and event for other international students 

Communication Skills: Strong written, public speaking, and negotiation skills are important to communicating effectively, particularly in an unfamiliar environment like a new country.

How to sell it:
- Passed proficiency examination in [name of language] or obtained certificate for intensive language study at [name of college or institute].
- Have a basic command of the local language to use it in practical situations.

Cross-Cultural Awareness: Our experiences, values, and cultural backgrounds guide our viewpoints and actions. Studying abroad reminds you to be cognizant of  yours and others’ perspectives. Remember that what is considered appropriate in one culture can be inappropriate in another. 

How to sell it:
- Self-confident, yet able to listen and learn from people whose value systems are different.
- Able to imagine, forecast, analyze or address business situations from a different cultural frame of reference.

Problem Solving and Flexibility: Adaptability is an increasingly important value for innovative organizations. Studying abroad stretches participants in ways that they don't often expect. 

How to sell it:
- Creatively solved problems by applying familiar concepts to unfamiliar situations.
A good interview is about telling a good story. It’s about weaving a narrative in response to questions about your ability to do a job, carry out your duties, and adapt to the organization and its expectations of staff. When speaking to employers, address the value of both the general and the specific skills you developed while studying abroad. It’s important not to assume that the interviewer will realize how your international experience is relevant to your candidacy.

Examples might include: You are adept at managing change; you are independent and have self-discipline while being sensitive to the needs of others. Dozens of work-related characteristics are developed abroad, which you can discuss in your interview: resourcefulness, versatility, persistence, an observant and calm demeanor, diligence, multifaceted skills in communications, broad and strategic thinking, an ability to deal with ambiguities, courage, an ability to take on challenging work, open-mindedness, flexibility, resourcefulness, tact, listening and observing skills, an ability to deal with stress, sense of humor, awareness of interpersonal politics, respect for protocol and hierarchy, loyalty, and tenacity.

An interviewer may provide you with an opportunity to tell a story based upon your international experience. Try to keep your answers from being lengthy, and connect your responses to the job, office, company, or graduate school to which you are applying,

Questions may be posed like these:
- What did you learn about yourself as a result of your study abroad experience?
- Why did you choose to study in [name of country]? Why was it important to you?
- How did you get engaged in the local culture outside the classroom?
- Can you describe a time when you had to change your behavior to accommodate or adjust to different local conditions?
IPS provides the following tips for adding your study abroad program to your resume. The most important thing to know when deciding which tips to follow, is understanding what the resumes and CVs in your field look like and what the field's expectations are.

Traditional and Service-Learning Experiences:
- If you attended an international university to earn academic credit, you could add the international university to the "Education" section of your resume. 
- You can also add it as a sub-bullet under your Millersville University degree as an activity you participated in. 
- If you participated in a short faculty-led program (MAPS), you can add it to the "Education" section of your resume as a sub-bullet under your Millersville University degree or to a separate "Volunteer" section. 

Professional Experiences:
- If you conducted research abroad, it could fall under the "Education" section of your resume as a sub-bullet under your Millersville University degree. However, if you are going into a research field it could be added to a separate research / professional experience section. 
- If you participated in a professional experience abroad, add the name of the international employer to the "Work Experience" section of your resume.
- If you choose this option be sure to expand on your internship or placement responsibilities.
- You will also want to save your placement information, such as their address,  your supervisor's contact information and others for future applications or future recommendations. 

You can view resume samples here

Graduate School Applications:
All graduate school applications are different. In some cases you will be able to share a copy of your resume or CV. However, in other cases you may want to include that you participated in study abroad elsewhere on the application, such as a personal statement or essay. Like employers, academics value the skills developed through studying abroad, and they’ll no doubt be interested to hear about the new perspectives you gained on your subject while abroad. Consult your academic advisor for advice on this, or you can always inquire with the graduate program director/coordinator or admissions office at your graduate school. 
Networking is the process of identifying contacts (including U.S. and international faculty, staff, fellow participants, locals) who you believe can contribute to your knowledge and understanding of the local job market or sector you are interested in. Below are a few tips on how you can brush up on your skills and gain valuable career insights:

- Keep track of the contacts you make on the program, whether they are other participants or locals. If you have an interest in pursuing work in their field, this contact list will be invaluable when you return home and want to follow up with individuals.

- If a homestay is part of your program, use this opportunity to learn about the culture, economics, and politics of your local community. Conducting these conversations will make you a better informed person when you’re meeting with other professionals. Your homestay family may be able to connect you to local networks if you desire to work abroad in that location in the future.

- It's hard to maintain contact after you return home. If you haven't left yet, plan a Zoom/Skype/WhatsApp or other virtual meeting for a month after you return. A date already booked on your calendar is harder to forget.

- Spending some personal/family vacation time abroad soon after studying abroad? International friends visiting the U.S.? Reach out to meet up with them and catch up with them about their life and career/school. You would likely be at similar professional levels and can share stories and tips. 

- Connect with the ELCM Office, your home academic department, and IPS to see if you can be connected with Millersville alumni who currently work abroad. Use the list of alumni you obtained to set up appointments for “informational” interviews. Introduce yourself and request a brief meeting to review the career field they’re in, the current state of the job market in the field, how their work is or is not linked to their undergraduate or graduate studies, and what advantages they see in working abroad.
The Experiential Learning and Career Management (ELCM) Office at Millersville University offers a variety of career services for students.

- Discuss ways to strengthen your cover letter to articulate how your study abroad experience is an asset for an employer.
- Participate in ELCM's mock interviews to practice articulating what you learned and the steps you took to gain or strengthen intercultural and professional skills. 
- ELCM can review your updated resume and provide you professional feedback for improvement. 
IPS has a variety of units that host student staff positions. The Education Abroad unit hires between 2-4 student staff members each term to assist in Peer Mentoring or PR/Marketing. The International Student & Scholar Services unit has between 2-4 student staff members to assist in events and programming and international student engagement. There are generally two hiring cycles each year that are advertised in Ville Daily. 

If you would like to connect with our office with less time commitment, IPS also has the Global Ambassador Program. The GAP program is a way for you to volunteer for major office events such as International Student Orientation, Study Abroad Fair and others. The program provides participants with short term professional experiences based around their availability and interest. It's a nice resume booster and a way to give back! 

For more information check out the IPS Get Involved webpage