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Making the Most of Study Abroad

Capitalize on your study abroad experience. Seek out experiential opportunities while you are abroad and take advantage of the opportunity to volunteer or intern in your areas of interest.

Before You Go...
  • The study abroad programs that are most beneficial to one’s career prospects are those that offer coursework in your major area, but don’t discount the importance of location in establishing your credibility in your field.  For example, if you want to work in fashion, choose a program in Tokyo, London, Milan or Paris. if you think you might want to work in finance, major financial centers or countries including emerging markets in Asia, Russia and Latin America would be good locations to study abroad.
  • Choose the most academically rigorous program for which you are eligible. Be aware that universities in the same country may be ranked very differently. Research the rankings of your potential study abroad destinations before you apply.
  • At Richmond, applying to study abroad in the spring semester is far less competitive than applying to go in the fall. If you have a marginal GPA or are not approved for your first choice program for the fall, you may have better luck if you try to again for the spring.
  • Choose a program that offers internships or volunteer experiences. Any kind of work or volunteer experience gained during your college years will give you a competitive advantage, and international work or volunteer experience is especially advantageous.
While Abroad...
  • Maintain your high standards. Though your study abroad grades will not appear on your UR transcript, you should plan to work hard and get good grades while abroad for several reasons. One is that if you ever apply to graduate school, medical school, law school etc., the institutions to which you apply can require you to submit transcripts from all of the places at which you have taken classes, including any at which you studied abroad. The same is true of potential employers. Another reason to work hard is that you will not get any transfer credit for classes in which you get grades lower than the equivalent of a C; if you do not earn a full semester’s worth of transfer credit, you may fall behind in your progress toward graduation. And a third reason to work hard is that if you do not, you will tarnish the reputation of UR and of the people of your home country.
  • Do an internship or volunteer experience if this is possible at your program site.
  • Network with local people who are doing the kind of work that you would like to do. 
  • Try to meet Richmond alumni living in the country where you are studying. Such connections can be invaluable.
  • While you still remember it, write down the address at which you lived while abroad. At some point in the future, you may be asked to provide a potential employer with all of the addresses at which you have ever lived (for example, if applying to a state bar association or if applying for a government job that requires a security clearance). 
After You Return...

Articulate, articulate, articulate! Nearly everyone who takes part in study abroad feels that it was a positive experience and is sure that it will help them with the next stage in their life, whether it is further study, a career or something else, but very few study abroad participants can tell their potential employers, or others who are evaluating them, exactly why study abroad is such a good thing. People can often make only vague statements about increased independence, responsibility, people skills, acceptance of difference, etc. If you can articulate these things, you will stand out from the crowd. You might try asking yourself these questions and practicing the answers to yourself or a friend.

  • How did study abroad challenge you to work more independently than before? And how did you respond to this challenge?
  • How did study abroad change the way you allocate time?
  • How did study abroad change your communication style?
  • And how would this benefit you in the job for which you are applying?
  • How did study abroad change the way you set priorities?
  • How did study abroad change the way you go about becoming familiar with totally new situations?
  • And when do you expect this skill to be of use to you?