If you haven’t yet headed overseas, there are a number of things you can do to get the most of your time away, grow your professional network, and increase your employability on your return.
Look into joining any relevant professional bodies in your destination country as a student member, and think about how you can you learn about your industry in your host country. Are there networking events you can attend?
Seek out course-relevant student clubs and get to know your peers. You never know when a connection will come in handy once you hit the professional world.
If undertaking research, consider asking your supervisor for a written reference when you complete your program.
Using exchange to boost employability
As you look to enter the workforce, reflect on how your overseas experiences can help make you more employable. How can your overseas experience help you answer selection criteria or interview questions in an interesting and relevant way?
Think of your exchange program as a point of interest on your CV, and use these genuine life experiences to show that you are the best candidate for the job.
Things to consider when answering selection criteria and interview questions:
- Employers are looking for success stories. What problems did you overcome while travelling?
- Employers are looking for adaptability. Did you have to adapt your thinking, learning, or communication while overseas? How did you do this, and what benefits or improvements did you see as a result?
- Employers are increasingly looking for employees with a global outlook and ability to think internationally. Have you developed a global perspective on your industry, or good knowledge of the state of the industry in your host country? How can your exchange program help you demonstrate this?
- Employers are looking for interesting and well-rounded team members. How has embracing another culture increased your cultural literacy? What have you experienced that someone who didn’t travel hasn’t experienced?
When looking at selection criteria or preparing for interviews, consider statements such as:
- I have a global perspective on our industry after spending time in another country. I have more developed knowledge of the global political and economic situation at my destination.
- I have been exposed to different ideas and approaches during my time overseas, and am a flexible thinker who is willing to embrace unusual ideas and solutions.
- I have overcome challenges and shown that I am not afraid to take calculated risks.
- I have made international connections, developed my networking skills, and started to build an international network of peers.
- I have developed inter-cultural communication skills and cultural awareness of somewhere other than Australia. I am not afraid to speak to people of different backgrounds, and have knowledge of appropriate social and business interaction on an international scale.
- I have developed real-world problem solving skills when I encountered problems during my studies/travels, such as the time when…
- My international experience makes me an interesting and well-rounded person, and easily able to find common ground with colleagues and clients, both local and international.
- I have exhibited independence, self-confidence, and adaptability, adjusting to different teaching and learning styles, and have succeeded in making the most of an international experience. I have excelled working in new workplace and/or social cultures.
- I have taken the opportunity to take subjects overseas that are not offered in Australia, thus potentially bringing new knowledge and viewpoints to my future employment.
- I have demonstrated initiative and problem-solving in coordinating my own international experience, including seeking appropriate destinations and studies, organising international travel, visas and accommodation, and overcoming a number of hurdles to ensure that I made the most of my experience