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How to Impress Employers with Your Study Abroad Experience

Seelio Study Abroad Gallery

Are you struggling to understand how your study abroad can help you stand out in your job search, or how to talk about it with employers? Your experience abroad can be a big asset when you’re applying for jobs and internships. But what do employers see as the value of your study abroad experience?

To answer this question, the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) at Michigan State University reached out to employers to find out what differentiated recent hires with international experience from those without international experience. From their research, more than 50% of the employers surveyed reported that recent hires with international experience excelled in these three areas:

  • Interacting with people who hold different interests, values, or perspectives
  • Understanding cultural differences in the workplace
  • Adapting to situations of change

Additionally, 45% of these employers said that hires with international experience also excelled in gaining new knowledge from experiences.


Employers recognize that your study abroad has given you valuable skills. But there’s a catch. In order for your experience abroad to help you in your job search, you first need to clearly understand what you got out of the experience, and how it can be an asset in the workplace.

Here are 3 steps to help:

Announcing the “2012 Most Unique Summer Work Winner”— Tracy Ko

Summer is a time when, unburdened by the hours of homework and extra-curriculars, students are free to experiment with interesting projects and pursue their life passions. This is important because according to recruiting blog The Ladders, these passions are an important part of who you are and thus what kind of applicant you will make.

If articulated well, summer projects can be extremely powerful in telling your story. Unfortunately, resumes do not always do summer projects justice. This is where a portfolio tool such as Seelio can give you an edge in job-hunting.

In the spirit of showcasing students’ summer accomplishments, Seelio held a contest to find the most unique summer experience on the site. We had a lot of excellent entries (for example, the aviation project submitted from William Quinn, caffeinated cookies from Chris Bogdan, the Ryan Seacrest productions internship from Jeffery Wisenbaugh and more). However, we are THRILLED to announce that our grand prize winner is Tracy Ko!

A junior at the University of Michigan, Tracy spent the summer working with Students of the World, a nonprofit that helps students tell stories of projects that inspire them. Tracy was based in New Mexico to document the efforts of a Nature Conservancy. Her work was chosen as the contest winner because it embodied her multiple unique passions and it was a defining moment in her career development. For her unique work, Tracy will receive a $50 AMEX gift card from Seelio. Check out Seelio’s interview with Tracy below to learn more about her summer:

Q: First, can you explain to us a little more about what you did this summer?

I was selected to be the photographer for the 2012 National Team for Students of the World. Every year, SOW sends teams of college students abroad “to shine a light on progress” that non-profit organizations are doing all over the world. The 2012 National Team was partnered up with The Nature Conservancy. Our 7-person team consisted of the lead filmmaker, assistant filmmaker, photographer, journalist, producer, social media coordinator, and graphic designer. We travelled to the New Mexico, Mexico, and the Grenadines to document the conservation efforts of The Nature Conservancy. After spending a month of traveling, to we return to Austin, TX (the headquarters of SOW) to spend 6 weeks on post-production. By the end of the internship, we delivered a complete media package of short videos, photos, articles, and graphics for The Nature Conservancy to use.

Q: That’s really cool, what made you decide to take this trip with Students of the World?

 When I saw first saw a campus flyer for an info session about SOW, I was immediately drawn to it because it contained three of my passions into one flyer: visual media, travelling, and social justice. After attending the info session, I was hooked on SOW’s mission. Not knowing whether I would be accepted because of my limited experience, I still applied for the photographer’s position anyways. And as the application process continued, eventually I was offered the position and I accepted right away!

Q: What did you like best about New Mexico?

I absolutely love the unique Southwestern landscape of New Mexico. It has a Wild West quality that I’m drawn to and inspired by. New Mexico also has a great art scene that’s Spanish and Native American influenced which I really admire as well. Overall, I love New Mexico! I would totally consider moving down to Santa Fe!

Q: What is one thing you learned from this trip that you would not have been able to learn otherwise?

What it means to be a better visual story teller. Being a good photographer means more than just taking “cool” pictures. It’s about telling a story through those photos. This internship helped me to go out of my comfort zone and actively seek stories. Many times I had to randomly approach people if I could take their pictures and I would ask questions and listen to their personal stories. So overall, I learned that curiosity, boldness, and human compassion are important qualities of a good photojournalist!

Q: Finally, please share with us why others should create a Seelio.

 It’s is a great way for people to really understand what you’re passionate about. Sometimes explaining to people what activities you’re involved in gets a bit stale. But when your work is visually displayed, it makes so much sense to other people! For example, when I see friends’ Seelio’s profiles, I’m thinking “Oh, so that’s what they’ve been up to all year!” So I get a better appreciation for what they’re passions are.

Congratulations, Tracy!

Seelio will continue to host contest like this in the future. To be informed of this and all other Seelio happenings follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Finally, make sure to upload your work and be ready for more prizes to come!

Questions or Comments please e-mail Chelsea at chelsea@seelio.com