Jessica Thomas studied abroad as much as she could as an undergrad, and that drive took her for semesters in Italy and Lima, Peru, and a summer course at Oxford in the United Kingdom.
“I knew I wanted to get into an international field, so I wanted to travel as much as possible,” said Thomas, who mentored students and recent graduates at a Foundation for Global Scholars event.
After graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 2012, Thomas used her international skill set to get an internship at the World Trade Center Denver. That position led to her current job as director of development for the Japan America Society of Colorado, a nonprofit group promoting mutual understanding between the people of Japan and Colorado at a grass roots level.
In interviews for those positions, she used her experiences abroad to demonstrate how she handles problems and adapts to new situations.
“When you use things that happened when you studied abroad,” she says, “those are experiences that stick in your interviewer’s mind.”
Here are six skills she believes students can showcase as they build their careers after studying abroad:
- Self-confidence. It takes a lot of determination and confidence to leave home and live in a foreign country.
- Self-awareness. You know yourself better after studying abroad.
- Self-sufficiency. Study abroad at times can be a lonely experience, but it teaches you to make your own way.
- Global awareness. You learn more about the world and world events.
- Effective communication. You learn to communicate effectively because you face different languages or cultural nuances that force you to raise your communication game.
- Flexibility. It quickly becomes apparent when you study abroad that your expectations often won’t match reality in a foreign country. As a result, you learn to adapt.