Resumes, cover letters, interviews, oh my! The career search is the last thing on your mind when you’re escaping to a foreign country, whether to study, work, or just have some time for yourself. But traveling and studying abroad are experiences that naturally enhance your skill set—the key is to translate those skills to resume fodder. So while you may think your semester abroad was just a party or the mission trip to Mexico you’re planning is trivial, think again. Read on for tips on how to use travel to benefit your career search and build your resume.
Before you go…
Choose your travels wisely.
Spontaneity is exciting, but it’s better suited to magic tricks and celebrity marriages than a semester of your life. In fact, careful planning will make your abroad experience a sure success, so figure out where you want to go and how that aligns with your career trajectory. “I’m an aspiring broadcast journalist, so depending which field I want to specialize in, travel is an important aspect of my future career,” says Rosanna Pound-Woods, a rising junior at the University of Leeds, whose internship in Australia has helped her land work. “The opportunity to report from around the world would be absolutely fantastic, and to understand the news and what is happening in the world, an appreciation of culture and differences in political systems in different locations is vital. What better way to properly increase your knowledge about these places than through travel?”
Have an objective.
Take a hint from Tupac—make your ambitions clear before you set off on your journey. Hillary Coombs, a rising junior at Bryant University, had two distinct goals before setting foot on foreign soil: “I traveled to China this past winter with my dad to shadow him on a business trip and get a joint venture I had been working on signed,” she says. But she was conscious of the additional benefits of traveling to that specific destination, too: “While I was lucky enough to be part of the business side, traveling to China in general is a great resume builder for anyone going into business—every industry works with China.” Identify your goals ahead of time in order to maximize the quality of your trip.
Do your homework.
Once you’ve committed to a destination, search for diamonds in the rough—opportunities that may not seem immediately obvious. Michelle Murray, director of sales and marketing at Contiki Tours, the leading travel company for 18-35-year-olds, describes the variety of options available to any college student: “We have over 200 trips to choose from so there is one for everyone,” she says. “Pick a place that interests you and learn about the people, the culture, the history and what it’s like to travel and see the world differently.”
Darci Miller, a rising senior at the University of Miami, sought to take advantage of an opportunity that comes only once in every four years: “When I went to London, I went with the intention of getting involved with the London 2012 Olympics,” she says. “I was able to volunteer with the casting department of London 2012 Ceremonies and it was by far the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life. I gained work experience, fulfilled a dream that I’ve had since I was a little girl, networked, met the most amazing group of people, and just had the time of my life.” Even if you’re not trekking to the next Olympic Games, explore opportunities unique to your location: “My friend, who’s studying drama, stumbled across the opportunity to take a stage combat class at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and that was her favorite part of the study abroad experience,” adds Darci.