Thank you for choosing CAPA International Education. We hope you enjoyed your program abroad and have returned home excited about the skills and knowledge you have gained while away. Studying abroad is a life changing experience, and some of the learning you've had will not be evident right away. Over time you will realize that your overseas experience not only enhanced your academic learning, but also your personal development. And, if you did an internship, the career enhancement potential is even more significant.
We have put together a number of resources below that we hope will help you with your future endeavors. Some are geared towards career development, while others will allow you to stay connected to CAPA and your fellow alums. Send us your feedback if there is something you would like to see us do for you now that you are a part of the global CAPA community! And consider joining our CAPA Alumni LinkedIn page to keep in touch.
John J. Christian, President
CAPA International Education
Career Resources for Leveraging Your Study Abroad Experience
There are a vast number of electronic resources devoted to leveraging your study abroad experience to help find an internship or a job after returning home. Below are just a few to get started, including articles, web resources and suggestions on ways to translate the skills and knowledge you've acquired from your soujourn abroad.
(Some of this information is reprinted from the Metro Boston Study Abroad Re-Entry Conference, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, 2003. Presentation of Susan Ingleby, Office of Career Services, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Information also complied from Jean-March Hachey, The Big Guide to Living and Working Abroad.
Now that you have a fabulous international experience under your belt, how can you translate this into a useful professional tool? Below are some ways to help articulate how the skills and qualities that you have acquired will be useful in a professional setting. Using the list below, pick out 5 – 7 items that will be useful to an employer. Recall and discuss a specific situation that demonstrates the skill or quality. There are a few examples below.
- Time management
- Identify problems and utilize available resources to solve problems
- Accept responsibility
- Communicate despite barriers
- Learn quickly.
- Take initiative and take risks
- Establish rapport quickly
- Function with a high level of ambiguity
- Achieve goals despite obstacles
- Handle difficult situations
- Handle stress
- Lead others in informal or formal groups
- Conduct research despite language and cultural differences
- Cope with rejection
- Adapt to new environments
- Understand an organization's culture
- Learn through listening and observing
- Learn through mistakes
- Perform in an environment with adverse conditions
- High energy level/enthusiasm
- Appreciation of diversity
- Flexibility & Adaptability
- Openness to relocation
Develop three to four stories that you can share with employers. Everyone who has studied abroad has their own list of "wild and shocking" stories to share with friends. These edgy cross-cultural experiences are fun to share, but not with potential employers. You need to modify them or devise a new set of cross-cultural career related stories about your study abroad experience. Craft these stories ahead of time, and build them to reinforce professional skill sets. Here are a few examples:
- Describe your role when working with student teams while abroad.
- Describe your encounters when meeting professionals working in your field.
- Speak about personal encounters that gave you insight into the local culture.
- Speak about the link between your country and the host country, especially in terms of the workplace.
You only need three or four of these pre-scripted career stories when job searching. One story alone is often enough to demonstrate a whole grouping of your professional skills, maturity, insightfulness, sound judgment, cross-cultural knowledge, etc.
Before your interview, consider whether your potential employer values your experience abroad or does not yet understand the value. This will help shape what you share and how much you speak about study abroad.
If you think your employer already wants to see some abroad experience on your resume, then jump right in with your stories and be ready to tell how you excelled. How did you go above and beyond while abroad? How did you lead cross-cultural teams, informally or in class? Remember that your interviewer may want to share some of his/her experiences abroad – ask them (briefly)!
If you think your employer is uninterested in your time abroad, you are going to need to take a few steps back. Remember two things:
- They almost certainly have some preconceived notions of what you did – have a good time and backpack around – while abroad. You are going to have to be that much savvier about how to talk about your experience.
- Most new graduates will be “domestic internationals” – employees whose international work is based in their home country. Most people continue to live and work at their home base, but with links to the world.
Be prepared to answer questions about your time abroad: "Why did you decide to study abroad?", “How did the experience live up to your expectations?". Remember to use specific examples when you can- this will always be viewed better than general answers such as- "because it sounded like fun", "so I could get away from mom and dad for a while", etc. You might find it helpful to think back to what you wrote in your essays to be accepted into the program, and why you chose to travel to your host country. If you can convey your passion for where you went, and why, your answer will stand out from others who stick to generalities. Also, you may want to think of things that surprised you about your host country while you were over there, however, remember to stick to the positive. You may find it helpful to keep some sort of journal where you can list the things that stood out to you while you were overseas. This will provide something for you to refer back to prior to your interview.
Interviewers may also ask you what accomplishments you were most proud of from your experience abroad. Again, activities outside of class will help you stand out. You can discuss the pride that came from learning how to not only adapt to college life in a foreign country, but also how to adapt to a work culture abroad. Discuss how this has made you a more well-rounded individual and worker. Also discuss how this experience would tie into your abilities at the specific job you are interviewing for. This piece of advice leads into other questions you may be asked- “What did you learn overseas that will help you do this job successfully?”, or “What have you accomplished during your time abroad that you are most proud of?” Again, providing specifics is the key to these questions. Discuss the goals you laid out for yourself prior to going abroad, and how you were successfully in achieving those goals.
Here are some questions to get you started, no matter how long you were abroad:
- Were you creative in solving problems by applying familiar concepts to unfamiliar situations? How could that help in the job you are applying for?
- Did you have to be flexible and adaptable? Able to work in ambiguous circumstances? Almost all employers like to see “self-starters” – does this experience abroad prove that you are?
- Describe your encounters when meeting professionals working in your field.
- Speak about personal encounters that gave you insight into the local culture.
- Speak about the link between your country and the host country, especially in terms of the work place. Describe your professional skills through a story about a cross-cultural encounter that went wrong.
Study Abroad's New Focus Is Job Skills in The Chronicle for Higher Education
Marketing Study Abroad: How to Sell Your Overseas Experience to Employers in Transitions Abroad
Apply International Experience to Post Graduation Plans, University of Tulsa
Impact of Education Abroad on Career Development, American Institute of Foreign Studies
Education Abroad and Its Value in the Job Market, An Annotated Bibliography
Global Career Compass, blogs focused on global workforce trends and the impact of education abroad experiences on student career development
Now that you have returned from your study abroad experience, you might be thinking, "what's next for me?" Many students want to go back overseas before or after they graduate, and there are literally hundreds of resources to find graduate, work, volunteer and internship programs. One of the best repository for work, volunteer and internship resources is NAFSA: The Assocation of International Educators. They have a resource library with dozens of links to pertinent information. Check it out!
Alumni Update and Newsletter Sign Up
CAPA International Education would like to hear from you and keep you involved in CAPA activities.
Please send us news about yourself, internship or job opportunities with your current company, or send us a suggestion. If you sign up for our newsletter, you'll begin receiving the news from around the world approximately twice per year.
Alumni Newsletter coming soon!
We plan to launch the first Alumni Newsletter at the end of the Fall 2012. We need your help to make it possible. Please consider sending in information about yourself and what you've been up to since finishing your CAPA program. Are you working? Attending graduate school? We'd love to hear about what you have been doing post-CAPA and all the exciting things going on in your life.
Each semester we will feature at least one alumni who has put his or her CAPA experience to good use. We want to hear from you!
If you are interested in submitting your story, please contact Stacia Biel, Director of Institutional Outreach.
Christine Anderson, Enrollment Specialist, Learning Abroad Center, The University of Minnesota
CAPA Florence Program, Spring 2009
When I started my freshman year at the University of Minnesota, I knew I wanted to study abroad. I truthfully didn’t know much of what study abroad entailed besides that fact that I would be living in another country for a few months, which to me sounded pretty great.
A couple years later I found myself boarding a plane to Florence, Italy. The first few days in Florence were a blur; I felt lost not knowing the people, the place, or the language. As the courses at CAPA started however, I began to better understand the culture and the language and slowly found my place in Florence.
The opportunity to experience the Italian culture allowed me to grow as a person. I realized that cultural differences were not bad, they were just that, different. The chance to step outside my own culture made me aware of the way I interact with those around me and how our actions affect each other. Most importantly, I gained a sense of self-awareness that I never could have gained by only living in my home culture.
I returned from Florence wanting to share my experience with others, but quickly realized that simply telling someone about it did not do it justice, rather, they would have to experience it themselves. This realization is what led me to seek out a career in international education. After working for a couple different high school foreign exchange programs I found myself back where it all began my freshman year, in the University of Minnesota’s Learning Abroad Center. I now have the opportunity to work in an office that sends students all over the world to have their own cultural experiences. Working in the Learning Abroad Center allows me to continue learning about different cultures throughout the world. What I most enjoy about my job is the satisfaction that I have every day knowing that I am helping others have their own unique experiences outside of the US.
Christian Lilienthal, founder of Animal Talks
CAPA Sydney Program, Spring 2008
Interned at Ocean World in Sydney, Australia
At 23-years-old, Christian is the sole proprietor and presenter of the Animal Talks programs. His animal husbandry experience comes from a lifetime of living and working with cattle, hogs and poultry on his parent's farm and exhibiting in 4-H and FFA livestock competitions. Much of his knowledge and interest in rare or exotic animals was developed while working at Ocean World in Sydney Australia in 2007 and 2008 where he was part of the curatorial and exhibit staff. As an Agriculture Education graduate of the University of Minnesota and workshop presenter with the National FFA Organization, Christian has performed hundreds of lessons to people of all ages on subjects as diverse as leadership, motivation, accountability and of course, animals!
How did your CAPA experience lead you to open Animal Talks?
My internship was at a zoo in Sydney, and it allowed me to be involved with animal care from day one. They also gave me opportunities to do public presentations through their animal shows and talks, as well as become involved with the positive and difficult aspects of a zoo keeper's job. I have a very extensive background in animal husbandry from growing up on my parents' cattle and hog farm, but the zoo experiences helped me become comfortable working with rare and wild animals. This developed into my current efforts of raising kangaroos, emu, camel and birds from all over the world for classroom education. Check out Animal Talks to see what I'm doing.
Did you study abroad with CAPA in 2012 or 2013? If so join the CAPA Ambassador Program and tell students about your experience. You can earn up to $450 per semester and have the chance to go to London or Florence for five days!
Now that you have spent time abroad, come back to campus and promote your experience. As a Student Ambassador, you will work to promote study abroad, and especially the CAPA International Education study abroad programs, at your university (and possibly even neighboring universities). You will be responsible for leading a number of activities and reporting back throughout the semester on your progress.
How it Works
Ambassadors promote study abroad on campus through a variety of projects. The more projects completed in a semester, the more money you can earn. Plus the ambassador that completes the most projects in the next academic year will receive a five-night trip to London. We request a one-semester commitment from all Ambassadors. To help prepare you, there will be a training session with CAPA staff over the telephone.
Possible projects include:
• Attending campus study abroad fair
• Debriefing study abroad office on experience
• Organizing and leading information sessions
• Presenting in classrooms
• Tabling in the student union
• Writing about your experience in the campus newspaper
• Producing a video for YouTube
• Compiling photos of your experience for the CAPA Website
• Writing a testimonial about your time abroad
• Discussing your experience on the CAPA Facebook page
• Volunteering in the study abroad office
• Speaking at pre-departure orientations
• And more – feel free to be creative as you spread the word!
How to Join the Program
To become a CAPA ambassador, please complete this form by July 15, 2013. You will simply need to give a little information about yourself and talk briefly about your time abroad.
Why not go again?
If you are itching to go abroad again and experience another country, think about another CAPA program. Regardless of whether you were on a regular or customized CAPA program, you will automatically receive a $600 scholarship to study abroad again on a regular CAPA semester program, or a $300 scholarship toward a regular CAPA summer program. Students studying on another custom program are not eligible for the discount. In addition to the Study Again with CAPA Scholarships, you can also apply for need and merit-based scholarships for any term. CAPA awards scholarships from $500-$5,000. Find out more here.
Students who have finished their study abroad program
If you studied abroad on your institution’s sponsored program through CAPA, please check with your study abroad advisor and/or the Registrar’s Office to see whether or not your grades have been received and posted to your transcript. CAPA sends grade reports approximately two weeks after the end of your program, so it may take a number of weeks for your institution to transfer them to your transcript.
If you are receiving transfer credit through one of CAPA's School of Record agreements, and you are not sure whether your home institution has received the official transcript, please first contact your Registrar’s Office. It generally takes 6-8 weeks for your grades to be processed by our Schools of Record. If your institution has not received it after 8 weeks, please contact CAPA by phone (800-793-8334) or email.
Alumni needing a transcript for graduate school or work-related reasons
If you studied abroad on your institution’s sponsored program through CAPA, please check with your institution's Registrar’s Office to see how you can request a transcript.
If you received transfer credit through The University of Minnesota for the London or Sydney Program (additional to those mailed directly to your sending institution upon completion of your program), please contact The University of Minnesota’s Registrar’s Office. If you did the Florence Program prior to Spring 2012, the University of Minnesota would also issue your transcript. As you do not have a University of Minnesota internet ID number, you will have to make your request by fax or letter. Go to the link provided to obtain contact information.
If you received transfer credit through The State University of New York (SUNY) for the Beijing Program ( additional to those mailed directly to your sending institution upon completion of your program), please contact SUNY's Registrar's Office. Contact information can be found in the link provided.
If you received transfer credit through Northeastern University for the Buenos Aires, Florence or Istanbul Program ( additional to those mailed directly to your sending institution upon completion of your program), please contact Northeastern University's Registrar's Office. Contact information can be found in the link provided.
Future CAPA students need your help!
Every year CAPA gives away thousands of dollars in scholarships and financial aid to deserving students, allowing them to make their dream of studying abroad possible. You can help by giving generously to the CAPA Alumni Fund. Any money you donate goes directly to funding scholarships for future students. You can make a general donation or designate your money to go to a specific program.
If you'd like to make a donation to the CAPA Alumni Fund, please contact CAPA or call us at 1-800-793-0334.
There is currently no active photo contest for alumni, but we will planning one soon! In the meantime, here are some of our recent photo contest submissions from some of our current students and alumni.