“College is something you complete. Life is something you experience.”
–Jon Stewart, William and Mary 2004
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to co-lead a 3-week service trip to Peru. The trip was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. While in Peru, we served in the Amazon Rainforest for a conservation non-governmental organization (NGO), as well as in the remote community of Markuray in which we assisted in building a greenhouse.
I think about my experience in Peru on a daily basis. I remember the beautiful countryside and culture, the llamas and alpacas, and of course the food. I will never forget the day we embraced our fears and jumped right into the Las Piedras River in the Amazon Rainforest.
Most importantly, I will remember what I learned. My time in Peru taught me that in the end, you will not regret taking a leap, whether it is in a river in the Amazon, or building a relationship with those who don’t even speak the same language as you. No matter what, that leap will be worthwhile. There is nothing in this world that can stop you from meeting such remarkable people, trying new things, and making a difference. My experience in Peru shed everything that was clouding who I was and helped me to find my whole and raw self. I am more confident in my abilities and will continue to grow in my passion for service after graduation.
While abroad, I gained skills that I did not know I was capable of attaining, as well as ones that were tangible for my future endeavors. There are a variety of skills that you might have gained through your global experience. Those skills are highly desired by employers and should be highlighted on your resume. Some of those skills could include:
· Teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in a diverse setting
· Ability to apply knowledge in a real world setting
· An understanding of how global issues affect the future
· Adapting to new situations and perform tasks that are unfamiliar
Be sure to take the time to reflect on the skills you gained after your experience, it will be most beneficial! Here is an example of a format for a resume in describing your experience:
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, Minor in Green Engineering
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Overall GPA: 3.2 Expected: May 2015
Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Demark
June 2013 – July 2013
· Completed summer unit operations lab
· Conducted 7 experiments
· Collaborated with students of various cultures to create and present on Danish Culture
· Took excursions to world-leading chemical production site to see theories learned put into practice
Remember that your global experience can also be helpful and useful in writing your cover letter. Your global experience can also be a great talking point while you are in an interview. Remember to focus on specific examples, interactions, moments, people, or events during your time abroad.
Global perspective is one of the six professional competencies that employers are looking for. In order to be best career ready, having a demonstration of these competencies can better prepare you for success in the workplace. Having that global perspective will allow you to appreciate, value, and learn more from other cultures to build collaborative relationships and communicate effectively.
Some questions you may want to consider along your journey are:
· What did you learn about yourself as a result of your international experience?
· Why did you choose to study in (country name)? Why was it important to you?
· Can you describe a time when you had to change your behavior to accommodate or adjust to different local conditions?
I hope you all consider a global experience during your time at Virginia Tech, because you never know where it will lead you or what you will learn about yourself! If you are interested in learning more about study abroad or service abroad, check out the Global Education Office and VT Engage's websites.
Feel free to stop by the Smith Career Center for walk-in advising in regards to showcasing you global experiences in a professional setting. We have walk-in advising available Monday – Friday from 12-3. Hope to see you soon and around the world!