Study up on studying abroad before you go

There will come a time in every undergraduate student’s life when we must leave the comfort of campus and venture out into the “real world.” Whether it is entering into the professional field, continuing on to graduate school or other alternative paths, it becomes apparent that the time that we spent off campus is just as important as the time that we spent on it.

When it comes to taking the next step in a professional career, time spent off campus can not only contribute to personal growth, but also make a student more marketable to potential employers.

The Study Abroad and Volunteer Fair took place on Wednesday Feb. 4, advertising both Geneseo-specific and State University of New York-wide resume-building opportunities. The trips and projects advertised are not only fun, but can be the component of your resume that sets you apart at future job or graduate school applications.

Here at Geneseo, there is a multitude of ways in which one can volunteer, learn and explore the world outside of campus. Geneseo’s Study Abroad office offers Study Abroad programs on every continent, which encompass a wide range of classes and programs.

Peer advisor for the Office of Career Development Brittany Beach emphasized that studying abroad can have both short-term and long-term personal benefits.

“When I look at a resume and see that someone has studied abroad, the first thing I think is that this person is culturally competent,” Beach said. “Abroad, you can learn a lot about yourself, problem solving and being on your own. These transferable skills are something that employers often look for.”

Beach noted that employers will typically ask potential candidates to tell them about who they are. Your experience abroad could be the perfect starting point to kick-start an interview. An employer may have been to the same place as you––or at the very least may be interested in your experience––setting you up to stand out from other applicants.

Volunteering abroad is also a viable option. This is equally marketable to potential employers or graduate schools. Participating in service learning or volunteering abroad is rewarding to both parties involved. Some popular programs to get involved in include wildlife preservation, caring for and teaching youth in economically underdeveloped countries or helping in rebuilding efforts.

For going abroad on a budget, certain programs offer room and board, food and transportation to volunteers for an all-inclusive price. The idea of paying in order to volunteer may seem contradictory, but it is worth it when you consider what benefits you are paying for. Volunteering abroad is often cheaper than merely traveling to a country on its own. Moreover, you get the gratifying experience of helping others while seeing the world. On top of all this, it becomes a marketable aspect on your resume.

As well as studying abroad, volunteering can exhibit both an appreciation for philanthropy as well as the aforementioned cultural competence. “An experience abroad can be highlighted on a resume, cover letter, or application to grad school,” Beach said. If you’re looking to put yourself ahead of the rest, this is something that you should strongly consider.