Column: Study abroad creates unique outlook to resume regardless of concentration

By Phil Collins

It feels like I say this every year (and I know I’m not the only one), but it’s hard to believe school is back in session again. It’s even harder to believe that this is the fourth time I’ve seen Champaign in September. That’s right folks, senior year has begun. Now here’s a novel concept to wrap your head around: the real world. No more late nights in Gregory Hall, no more testing the closing times of campus libraries, no more excruciating final exams, no more waking up realizing the time is now 11 a.m. and economics class ended two hours ago,

Instead, it’s time to choose a path in the 9-5 lifestyle. Because I ruled out rodeo clown and sanitation engineer in favor of being a journalist a long time ago, I’m starting to think about where I precisely want to work and shape my r‚sum‚ accordingly. Now I’ve remembered something that may help me with the latter: this is actually only the third time I’ve seen Champaign in September.

I spent my sophomore year at the University of Nottingham in England (get the Robin Hood/Sherwood Forest references out of your system now). Among other things, I met people from all around the world, traveled, established yet another home away from home, got all the credits I desired from classes and learned why football (the one without helmets) can go punch for punch with any major sport we watch on this side of the Atlantic. I could go on and on about my experiences that year, but let’s stick to the topic at hand.

You can easily translate studying abroad into an entire section on your r‚sum‚. Even the most general, “I learned so much about other cultures; the whole experience really opened my eyes” says something about your personality. At the least it says you are open to alternative ways of thinking. It doesn’t matter what field you want to go into, companies like people who can adapt.

Of course it helps if you’re involved in something tangible while you’re away. For instance, this publication trusted me to send in columns about this, that and the other while I was overseas. If nothing else, that shows that even when it would have been easy to get rid of me, they kept publishing my work. Basically, the same rules that apply to building a r‚sum‚ here- – doing well in school, getting involved in extracurriculars, attaining leadership positions and working part-time jobs – apply there as well, plus now you’ve done them in a foreign environment.

So if you go, make sure you take a break from watching Arsenal dominate in the Champions League and tasting fine European beers and get involved in something that’s going to work for you later. Show your prospective employers that although you had a lot of fun, that time abroad wasn’t just one extended vacation for you. Show them that having spent that time in a foreign culture, you’re bringing something to the table that can’t be manufactured.