Thank you for choosing CAPA The Global Education Network. 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 The Global Education Network
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 The Global Education Network 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 soon. 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.
The CAPA Ambassador Program is a semester-long leadership and professional development program. This is an opportunity to share your study abroad experience with others and stay involved with CAPA The Global Education Network.
You will play a critical role in building support and advocacy for study abroad and CAPA programs on your campus through your outreach efforts. It is also a career-building opportunity that will help you expand your on-campus network, improve your time management, interpersonal and communication skills, and it will give you tangible work experience for your burgeoning resume at a critical point in your post-university job search. You'll also have fun and be compensated for your time and efforts! See why this student, Paul, recommends being an ambassador - check out his blog post!
RESPONSIBILITIES OF A CAPA AMBASSADOR
As a CAPA Ambassador, you will promote study abroad on your campus through a variety of projects. There are two sets of tasks, which must be completed by specific deadlines. The core Campus Activities are completed during the first 6-8 weeks of the semester, and consume about 3-6 hours per week of your time. The second Social & Creative Activities can be done at any point during the semester, and the time commitment for these is approximately 1-2 hours per week. Some responsibilities put you face-to-face with your peers, while others involve social media or helping your study abroad office. Sample activities and events are listed below, and these may modified on your particular campus based on what is and is not allowed under their policies.
If there is more than one ambassador on your campus, we encourage you to work together whenever you can. CAPA also provides you with a "toolkit" of materials, including a CAPA Ambassador T-shirt, brochures and fliers, and give-aways. We also reimburse up to $25 per semester if you wish to order food for an event, or purchase materials for a display.
- Attend campus study abroad fair (core)
- Debrief study abroad office on experience (core)
- Organize and leading information sessions (core)
- Present your experience in classrooms (core)
- Complete reviews on GoOverseas, Abroad101, RateMyStudyAbroad and other review websites (core)
- Do a guest blog for the CAPA World Blog (core)
- Table in the student center
- Write about your experience in the campus newspaper
- Produce a video for YouTube
- Interact with CAPA's Alumni Group on LinkedIn
- Complie photos of your experience for CAPA marketing efforts
- Write a testimonial about your time abroad
- Volunteer in the study abroad office
- Speak at pre-departure orientations
- And more – feel free to be creative as you spread the word!
WHO CAN APPLY FOR THE CAPA AMBASSADOR PROGRAM
You must be a current undergraduate student enrolled in the semester after you return from your CAPA program. We are looking for people who are enthusiastic, creative, and passionate about their experience abroad. You need to be responsible, possess good time management skills, and be willing to do some of your tasks in the evenings when students are more readily available. Good communication skills are valued, and we prefer people who are well-versed and active in social media. We request a one-semester commitment from all Ambassadors, and by mutual agreement you can continue until you graduate. To help prepare you, there will be a mandatory on-line training session with CAPA staff over the telephone.
Please note: Students from the following schools are not allowed to participate in the ambassador program by their home institutions: University of Pittsburgh, University of Minnesota, Northeastern University, and Saint Mary's College of Indiana.
You will be compensated with a modest stipend of $400 for completing the two sets of tasks by the stated deadline. The ambassador who completes the most tasks and/or is the most active receives a five-day trip to London, Florence, or Dublin. The second most active ambassador will receive a $500 gift card. There is an added incentive for recruiting students who enroll and travel abroad with CAPA in upcoming terms.
HOW TO JOIN THE PROGRAM
Your application will be reviewed by Nicole Couturiuax, who manages the CAPA Ambassador Program. You will also need to be approved by the study abroad office at your home university. Some institutions limit the number of ambassadors we can have during any given term, so if we are unable to offer you a position for your chosen semester, we can explore other ways you can contribute informally to CAPA and perhaps offer you a position the following semester.
MEET CURRENT AMBASSADORS
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 Northeastern University for the Buenos Aires or Florence 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.