Unpacking your international experience

Welcome back to Iowa State University! We hope you have benefited personally, academically, and professionally from your international experience.

We know you “had a great time” or “it was awesome...”

But have you considered how saying that might sound during an interview with a potential employer or a graduate school admissions officer? Learning how to discuss the transferable skills you gained during your study abroad experience can benefit you in the workplace or in graduate school.

The resources provided here will help you to reflect on your time abroad, continue your international experience, include your experience on your resume, and utilize the S.T.A.R. method to articulate your experience to potential employers or graduate schools.

Reflecting on your international experience

event management student group in Abu DhabiThe majority of learning that occurs abroad happens outside of the classroom. While it is important to reflect on your academics and program activities abroad, you may have also undergone some personal changes that aren’t as visible. In addition, you may be having some difficulty adjusting to life at home (re-entry shock).

The "Marketing your International Experience" workbook can help you to reflect on changes that may have occurred with your values, outlook, attitude, and/or abilities. Consider how your international experience has affected your worldview and understanding of other cultures, as well as how it has contributed to your personal growth and professional development.

  • Review the "Marketing your International Experience" workbook.
  • Set up an appointment with Erin French, CHS Director of International Programs, to further reflect on your international experience.

Continuing your international experience

student looks over waterway in DenmarkYour experiences abroad don’t have to end when you set foot on U.S. soil again. Here are some examples of how you can continue your international experience on campus and beyond:

  • Let your faculty program director or study abroad program coordinator know you are interested in joining the CHS START program
  • Set up an appointment with Erin French, CHS Director of International Programs, to share your study abroad story
  • Volunteer to be an English Conversation Leader or Partner with ISSO’s English Together program
  • Consider adding International Studies as a second major or as a minor
  • Enroll in classes that have an international focus
  • Join an ISU student organization with an international or cultural focus
  • Participate in international activities on campus such as a food fair, cultural night, or dance lessons
  • Study or intern abroad again before you graduate
  • Consider pursuing a graduate degree abroad

Adding your experience to your resume

International Student Teaching in TaiwanDepending on the type of experience you had abroad, you can list it in one of several sections on your resume. Consider adding it to a section about your education, international experience, related experience, or additional experience. You should also consider how your references can help you demonstrate what you learned abroad.

Utilizing the S.T.A.R. method

For each skill that you developed during your international experience, prepare an example with the S.T.A.R. method to develop a descriptive and relevant response for interview questions.

  • Share a specific Situation from your study abroad experience.
  • Describe a specific Task related to the situation you have chosen.
  • Explain the Action that you took to complete the task.
  • Describe the end Result or outcome of the experience.

The S T A R method

For more information about the S.T.A.R. method, consult these resources: