Many people think about the Erasmus experience as a few months of parties, adventure and sightseeing without any parental supervision. The fact is, however, that in an increasingly competitive international job market, recruiters are putting more emphasis on your experiences besides the standard academic path in order to understand your skills and what sets you apart from other job candidates. This necessarily means that amongst many other experiences, including your Erasmus studies on your CV is highly valued.
You may feel like spending a few months abroad is not necessarily relevant when it comes to your ability to perform a job, but meeting different people, new cultures and new places and studying in a completely new environment definitely allows you to grow and get some new skills.
The fact that you must learn a new language, particularly a very unusual one definitely makes you stand out. One the other hand, if you learn a highly international language like Mandarin, Spanish or German that can even be crucial towards you getting your dream job.
Related: other relevant experiences to include on your CV:
REASONS WHY HAVING AN ERASMUS EXPERIENCE IS RELEVANT
It is a nice complement for recruiters to find on your CV
It is always positive to have an experience abroad to include on your CV. It shows that you were experiencing a totally different culture in a different country. Even if the country is not really far away, the fact is that you did live abroad and this is even more remarkable if you choose to go somewhere where none of your colleagues decide to venture.
When you study abroad you are also many times able to study subjects that aren’t offered at your home institution, which makes your academic experience much richer. If nothing else, it extends your academic path, which provides you an extra summer to gain additional experience before entering the job market.
It allows you to stand out.
This is particularly relevant if you are in a very competitive market where you will find a lot of capable students with similar degrees and grades looking for a finite number of jobs.
Recruiters are filled with hundreds of CVs on their desks. In order to filter out which ones get to the next round, it regularly comes down to what students have pursued and achieved outside of their regular academic life. This means that a good way to stand out is to have studied abroad as it provides you with a unique experience.
Related: Erasmus experience in Pisa, Italy!
Besides academic relevance, it is great for interviews – it provides a topic to break the ice
It is common during interviews for recruiters to make some more relaxed and personal questions about your personal experience abroad. They often ask questions about what you did on your year abroad, whether or not did you find it beneficial, the challenges you faced and if you would recommend it. Many times, the positive and negative aspects you mention are also relevant in showing your personality and personal preferences and it is a great way to show off your skills and experiences effortlessly and fluently.
While abroad you gain invaluable skills
More often than not the skills you acquired during your studies abroad are transferable. All kinds of skills arise from studying in a foreign language, having to fend for yourself in a new country and solving new challenges like registering in a new country, find the most efficient means of transportation, find a place to stay or even keeping up with a budget. All of these skills set you apart from other candidates as you have showed to be responsible and able to face new challenges outside of your comfort zone.
Additionally, being abroad means that you gain richer multi-cultural experience which can be an even bigger asset if you are applying for large companies with business all over the world or if you plan to go work abroad.
Some interesting numbers: Multilingual candidates can earn more than monolingual candidates
Besides all of the above-mentioned benefits, there are also some interesting statistics supporting the innumerous advantages of studying abroad. Research has showed that graduates who use their language skills in employment are able to get a higher salary (between 8-20% more) than candidates that only speak their native languages. Although this is context dependent, the fact is that having done an Erasmus exchange allows you not only to learn a new language but also to use that knowledge to apply and get better-paid jobs.
Related: What does a Tunisian student think of Portugal?!
ERASMUS EXPERIENCE: FUN AND ENRICHING
All in all, independently of how you decide to build your CV, you should still always include your Erasmus experience. Particularly if you are fresh out of college, this will be critical for your recruiter to understand a little bit more about your skills and your background. Having experience abroad shows you have intercultural competence which is critical especially if you are applying for a multi-national company. Additionally, when you include your experience abroad on your CV you should also think about all the relevant skills you gained. What did you learn? How did it allow you to develop yourself? Not only should you mention you have been in Erasmus but also specify the most relevant skills you think you learned while it took place.
The fact is that most employers are continuously seeking students who have studied abroad as they believe that those students who have successfully completed a study abroad program are likely to have developed skills needed in the global context. Companies also look for creative people who are versatile and adaptable, with willingness to seek out new experiences. Knowledge from a new language, economic and geographical knowledge as well as cross-cultural communication skills, flexibility and an ability to adapt to new circumstances are some of the innumerous positive outcomes from studying abroad.
Because of all this, you should highlight your set of skills to potential employers to show your uniqueness and how valuable you might be to the organization.
Lastly, while in an interview, having a relevant story or experience to tell can give you advantage as it makes you more memorable to the recruiter and provides more insights to your recruiter about how you are.
All in all, studying abroad is still in and if you are considering it you should definitely include all of these reasons on your “pros” list!
Author: Margarida Morais