Create your Stories
So how should you prepare for an interview? One of the first steps is to d
evelop a collection of stories about your time abroad.The stories could focus on things like:
- your successes (any notable grades, awards or recognition while you were abroad or on your return?)
- your coursework abroad (what kind of program, how did it relate to your major, who it was accredited by, what emphasis did it place on language acquisition, and on independent research if any?)
your professional experience abroad (did you do service learning, awork placement or an internship?)
- your collaborative highlights (were you on the student committee, voluntary teams or participate in student mentoring during or after the experience?)
- your local community highlights (were you in voluntary teams with locals, did you interview locals for academic fieldwork, did you engage in language exchange with local students?)
- personal experiences that gave you insight into local culture (best challenges overcome, best local friendships made?)
Write out some answers and keep them short. Maintain a business-like tone so not to trivialise overseas study, and stick exclusively to your successes and accomplishments. Make sure that you're armed with the kinds of stories that will be useful in each case, depending on the nature of the company and the particular competencies required by the position that you're after.
In conclusion, what your stories should illustrate is how your experience made you a better candidate for the job you're after. So instead of talking about how much 'fun' it was in Rome, or that CEA 'broadened your horizons', craft your stories around specific, positive experiences from the checklist above that illustrate yourcommunication skills, your greater maturity even in unfamiliar environments, your tolerance for diversity and change, your openness to alternative viewpoints, and your ability both to lead and to work as part of a team. Prepare and reflect your stories ahead of time and they will be personal, considered and compelling.