How studying abroad has helped me nail interviews and land amazing jobs.

By Lindsey Barrett, Peer Advisor in the Office of Global Opportunities

Let Me Explain…

One thing that many career-prep workshops might tell you is that company’s tend to look for similar traits – leadership, empathy, organization, transparency, etc. Many job interviews will ask questions that allude to how you possess these traits. There are a few themes that have reoccurred in nearly all of my interviews and I ALWAYS refer back to my study abroad experiences for my BEST answers. These answers have been pretty successful in landing me some competitive student jobs:

  • Resident Assistant
  • Global Opportunities Peer Advisor
  • Learning Community Leader
  • Orientation Leader

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#1. Something about how you handle being frustrated with coworkers.

I vividly remember when this type of question has come up for me. Mostly, I think, because it makes me uncomfortable being asked how I deal with things I don’t inherently (as a non-confrontational person) want to deal with. I do, however, pull from the experience I gained from living in a place surrounded by things that I do not understand or believe in. I had to learn how to empathize in order to make sense of the world around me. It was so different from Ohio, but it was logical in its own right.

In interviews that pose this kind of question, I essentially end up saying that I try to empathize and see why my peer has done whatever it is that frustrated me. Then, I ask them about it – not my boss, not their superior, THEM. They probably have a legitimate perspective that is totally reasonable once I understand. Trying to understand someone’s perspective is something only THAT PERSON can express. Jumping to a superior is like saying that you already know that their reasons/thinking was not good enough or correct in your eyes.

#2. Something that challenges you to consider your weaknesses

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 9.15.58 AM.pngSo, this question is going to be different for everyone reading this. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Here is my story about how I became all too familiar with my strengths and weaknesses:

My Weakness: My ultimate weakness is most certainly my tendency to selectively listen. I realized being surrounded by things that confuse me, that I had to trust and carefully consider what the people around me would suggest. I realized that this was hard for me because, when surrounded by the world I was socialized in, I could listen to the things that I wanted to or that I cared about and survive just fine. In China, I had to believe people when they said “Bow your head when you shake their hand – or it’s disrespectful” or “Students do not ask questions because it is considered rude toward the teacher – as if they didn’t teach well.” In America, these little mannerisms and social constructs were innate to me so I did not have to listen intently and open-mindedly to what people suggest/order. You think you generally know what is best until you live in a near parallel universe. I always mean well, but I am constantly making an effort to be a better listener.

#3. Something to do with what can you bring to the team

I can tell them I can offer: Professionalism, Mentorship, Event Marketing, Public Speaking, Patience, Empathy, Leadership, Positivity, Optimism, Organization, Problem Solving, Customer Service/Satisfaction, Scheduling, Resource Management, Energy, Bilingualism, an Open Mind, among many other things. Each of these assets have been developed or acquired through experiences unique to me. All beneficial traits (that employers value) that I wouldn’t have nearly as much of if I had not done my Study Abroad.

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