“So I can see here that you studied abroad,” he said, as he looked up from my resume. “Where exactly did you go?”
“Yes I did, I went to Singapore last semester,” I replied with a smile.
“Oh wow, how was that experience?”
I blanked. All I could remember at that point were the stories of my travels – of catching mid-week flights to Thailand, rushing to the ferry terminal straight after class to take a boat to an island of Indonesia, trying to find a secluded bus terminal just minutes before our bus departed for Malaysia. I didn’t prepare to talk about my study abroad experience in a setting such as a Skype interview.
I mean, the setting was obviously quite formal. The last time I had talked about my semester abroad was to my friends, expressing how much fun I had meeting people from around the world, traveling to new places, and enjoying living in a new country. The informal chats that I have with my friends allow for these types of relaxed conversations. But in a Skype interview? No way.
Instead, I chose to talk about the growth I experienced from living and traveling abroad. After all, one of the most rewarding outcomes of studying abroad is the independence that you gain from living “alone” in a new country for four months. Talking about my personal growth probably conveyed a sense of confidence – because I got into the program I was interviewing for! After all, confidence is key, and nothing shows that better than the proof that you were confident and independent enough to travel across the world on your own. Highlighting the things that you learned during your semester abroad – both about the world, and about yourself – could really put you at an advantage during an interview.
During the past four months, I learned a great deal about my interests, my strengths, and even my weaknesses (which includes $1 plates of freshly-made Pad Thai on the streets of Chiang Mai). Conveying this during my interview (not the Pad Thai, of course) really helped to show my confidence and motivation, eventually landing me the role. After all, employers like to see that you have had real-world experience outside of the classroom, and studying abroad certainly puts you in a real-world setting.
My experience abroad took me to many new and exciting places – Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
And even though it is over, it continues to lead me to new and exciting opportunities – next stop: Washington, DC!