How Good Does Studying Abroad Look on a Resume?

MarchingForward's picture
Rank: Monkey | 36

More specifically, I don't mean "studying abroad" as in spending a semester touring Barcelona, Paris, Rome, etc. I mean actually attending an institution overseas.

I am looking into applying for the London School of Econ. summer school program (four-week session which concentrates on taking a class in a specific industry), as well as the Swiss Finance Academy (considered an internship (?) but looks to me as if it's just a program where you can enhance your knowledge).

Is this something that could give a couple extra brownie points or is that not really relevant?

If anyone could weigh in on this that would be fantastic.

Also, on a side note, I did do a study abroad program this past summer for a month (studied international accounting and international law in eight European cities), and was wondering where that information goes on a resume. Does it go at the top with education?

Comments (78)

Jan 14, 2015

Exchange programs are great talking points in interviews. Avoid Swiss Finance Academy at all costs.

Jan 14, 2015

In my personal experience studying abroad has been a fantastic opportunity. When I was in college I did programs in China, India and Dubai. When you go into an interview it's also a great talking point, and will be great leverage to show how diverse you are. In my case I used my study abroad opportunities as the foundation for my keenness and openness to diversity. Along the process I also learnt many new languages, and cultures which always is exciting to talk about with your interviewer and in most cases they will want to know more and it just makes your interview more interesting, less black and white. Academically, you also get the opportunity to learn in a different way, despite the fact that it will be universal material. Also LSE has a great rep, and anyone who will be in your class will be amazing to stay in touch with and add to your network. Ultimately- just do it! :)

Jan 14, 2015

my study abroad experience was very much worth it... not a waste of time at all. I learned a lot and I'm pretty sure it helped me secure my current job. So long as you can study abroad in a good place at a reputable university, I think it can look very good on a resume. It can also help you to strengthen language skills, which also looks good on a resume.

places to study abroad: brazil, china, japan, india, england (if you can study at LSE cause that's prestigious for banking)

(these places matter and in some cases will continue to matter more and more in the future)

places not to study abroad: spain, italy, greece

(these places are clearly a lot of fun... but who gives a fuck)

Jan 14, 2015

Study abroad ought to be a graduation requirement. It was the best semester of my college life. In fact, I don't think I know ANYONE who would say it wasn't the best semester of their life. And I disagree with avoiding Spain, Italy, Greece. I know loads of people who went to Spain and Italy and they all had amazing times.

Honestly, do it. And yes, it adds an yet another interesting element to the resume, even if it doesn't drive home the offer.

And finally -- My first board dinner with one of our portfolio companies and I sat next to the CEO. He ended up telling me wild stories about him and his friends studying abroad in Germany 25-30 years ago. Talked about the experience for half the dinner -- ended up being a great tool for me to build a relationship with the management team.

Jan 14, 2015

I am planning to apply for an exchange semester at Hong Kong University.

I am studying at Vienna University of Economics so I believe it is important to add some spice to the education section in my CV, especially if you are from an unknown university in a small country like Austria.

Also, nearly every student who has done a semester abroad describes it as one of their best experiences during college, which is a great indicator for how valuable it is, not only for your CV but also for you personally.

Jan 14, 2015

Absolutely worth it.

Jan 14, 2015

I'd say it's worth it for the sake of your own college experience, but it's not going to really help you in terms of getting a job / interview per say, unless you had studied abroad at a respected university (ex. LSE). If you're going to study abroad, do it to have some exciting memories to look back on, but don't do it with the mindset that a study abroad experience is going to help you land interviews/jobs.

Jan 14, 2015

dont do it junior or senior year when sa/ft recruiting occurs. otherwise its fine but not important for recruiting.

Jan 14, 2015

^

You can't exactly do it sophomore / freshman year either... Do it first semester junior year if you're that worried about SA recruiting. Most banks have accelerated rounds for study abroad students if you're at a target.

Jan 14, 2015
goingbrokeinNYC:

Or is it just a waste of time in your opinion?

No single activity can be considered a waste of time if it brings you enjoyment and allows you to try news things.

Do study abroad because you want to experience life and learn about a new culture; not for the sole purpose of getting a job or having something impressive on your resume.

EDIT: typo

In 1976, James Hunt broke the sound barrier through Eau Rouge only to retire before the event finished... following the race he had sex with three Belgian nurses at the clubhouse near La Source.

Jan 14, 2015

Totally and completely worth it. I'm not sure I agree with International Pimp said in that I wouldn't worry TOO much about the reputation of the school at which you will be studying (obviously don't completely discount it but its not like studying anywhere but LSE or Cambridge will torpedo your chances). My buddy did semester at sea and his interviewers LOVED it.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jan 14, 2015

"My buddy did semester at sea and his interviewers LOVED it."

is the "sea" you're referring to a university acronym? Or do you literally mean sea as in water? lol

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Jan 14, 2015

it'll be the best time you will have probably ever

Jan 14, 2015

Best time of my life, and that's not an exaggeration. I studied abroad in France and I really recommend going to a place where you have to speak a different language- it pushes you into uncomfortable situations that build character and make for better experiences (and stories).

If you really want to study at LSE, do it because it has a great rep, but I disagree with International Pymp that the place or rep of your school matters. I studied at an outpost of my American university, so I didn't have the name of the Sorbonne on my resume or anything like that. And I'm sure that my abroad experience and internship were the reasons why I got an offer.

If you are worried about picking a program or location, just choose it based on what seems most fun to you or most adventurous. I love France so that's why I went there, but it would've been awesome to go someplace completely different, like a country in Africa.

Also, you can go spring semester junior year if you are on top of your game. You can definitely get accelerated interviews at several places, and I'm sure boutiques will understand as well. In fact, it makes for a great excuse to reach out to banks earlier in the process.

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Jan 14, 2015

You know when your watching a movie and the main character is traveling and your like "damn, I would love to go HK"......that's what study abroad is for. Don't worry about grades, don't worry about school. Just drink every night and meet new people. I am dead serious......you will grow as a person and be better prepared for the real world.

Jan 14, 2015

We should get a thread on crazy study abroad stories. I want to relive that period of my life over and over.

Best Response
Jan 14, 2015

In Shanghai, just finished up the night and was in a taxi with 4 other guys. While we are driving on the freeway in the middle of the city, we make the taxi pull over so my friend can take a piss on the side of the road. While he is pissing on the side of the road with the other guys taking pictures, I get that "feeling" and in completely coherent sentences (which is important because I was not coherent before then--and everyone got pissed when I tried to speak Chinese to the driver and probably used 12 tones). say open the door, open the door, open the....... My friend lets me out and I start puking over the side onto another freeway below us. My friend who was taking a piss is laughing his ass off, until two second later he is joining me. Of course, there are pictures with both of us ass up, puking over the side.

We get back to the hotel and I am still drunk, but I know what I am doing...so I go to the guy who was puking with me (who is still pretty bad) and I offer to help him get into the hotel. I thrown an arm around him while he goes and full palm grabs my ass.

I get to the room and start throwing up in the bathroom. It's 2am and we have to be up at 430 to catch a flight. I pass out, pants around me knees, face resting on the toilet seat (which is something I do a lot if you know me). Im still drunk when I wake up for the flight, but somehow I get to the airport. I get on the plane and I know that that I am going to throw up on the plane when we start to move. All I could do was rest my head on the seat in front of me and keep my eyes closed (if I happen to see the window out of the corner of my eye, I would think we were moving and would get sick). I keep my eyes closed, but I think I fall asleep for a few minutes at a time because when I open them every once in awhile I see that we still haven't taken off and that it is raining a little. I am just praying I can last the flight.

We takeoff and I feel a lot better (still bad though). We land in Xian (2.5 hours flight) and as we are walking to get out bags, I comment to my friend how fast that two hour flight was. He looks at me in disgust and says " What the FUCK are you talking about!!!!...We were stuck on the Goddamn runway for over two hours because of the rain.

+1 for flying drunk.

Weirdest girl meeting: In a club in Beijing, when I sit down at a table to rest. This girl sitting across from me (it's a big circular table) throws a coaster at me. I throw it back, before long we are picking up all the coaster on the table and throwing them at each other, when we run out of coaster, we start throwing ash trays, after we run out of ash trays, we spend the next 45 minutes talking......I didn't get lucky, but it was a hell of a way to start a conversation.

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Jan 14, 2015

Bumping this epic thread for more abroad stories

Jan 14, 2015

Can't believe somebody asked if study abroad was worth it. My study abroad semester was the most fun time of my life.

Jan 14, 2015

Hands down the best four months of my life. Seriously wonder if I'll ever be that happy again.

Jan 14, 2015

Don't get too wrapped up in only satisfying requirements for job pre reqs. Kill two birds with one stone. Study abroad where you'd love to live and love to study, you will get more out of it than say going to china if you have 0 interest and rather be in Spain or Germany etc... Worth it whether you need student loan or mommy and daddy can hook it up. I took out a loan (still paying off) for 8k to pay the trip, and my parents gave me the spending money 3-4k. Good luck :)

** RIP ZYZZ **
We're all gonna make it brahs

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Jan 14, 2015
moneymogul:

Hands down the best four months of my life. Seriously wonder if I'll ever be that happy again.

& lol @ this comment. I studied aborad 2010 and only "got over" not being there around the beggining of this year. Sucks to suck :.(

** RIP ZYZZ **
We're all gonna make it brahs

Jan 14, 2015

One thing that should be added is that when you are removed from your comfort zone (the good ol' US of A in my case) and placed in a completely different environment (say South America, Africa, or Asia), you grow up incredibly fast. You learn how to observe and adapt and you also become much more tolerant of changes in circumstances you can't control. It makes you more flexible and it gives you that "I can face anything" mentality.

Jan 14, 2015

If you are 100% set on an IB career, studying abroad would not be as beneficial as a summer internship in a bank or other closely associated role. Otherwise, I agree with you that studying abroad can be highly beneficial.

Jan 14, 2015

my question is, do you miss out on the advantages of networking during the fall semester of junior year if you are abroad? if i study abroad during the fall, i wouldnt know anyone come spring semester when OCR occurs...

Jan 14, 2015

@Aussiebanker:

Studying abroad and IB should not be conflicting. Usually, just study abroad either in the fall/spring of your junior year (and in some cases fall of senior year is also possible). Come back to IB during the summer (a lot of people do this)

@eating926
To tell you the truth, networking only really matters if you come from semi/non-target! If you are at a school (a target) with a structured recruiting process (i.e. resume drops -> first round -> superday), if you have the requisite GPA/Work Experiences/Extra Curriculars and a good looking resume in general, you'll get the interview no matter what. Whether you get hired or not depends almost entirely on your performance during interviews.

The only case in which networking really matters IMO, is if there is no structured recruiting process at your school, and you have to rely on alumni to submit resume to HR on your behalf.

Anyway, anecdotally, ALL of my friends who are studying abroad (Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai) have landed BB internships.

Jan 14, 2015
ibhopeful532:

To tell you the truth, networking only really matters if you come from semi/non-target!

So you are saying no one from a target need to network? Not the advise I would be giving to anyone that wants to be sure of achieving their goal.

ibhopeful532:

Anyway, anecdotally, ALL of my friends who are studying abroad (Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai) have landed BB internships.

Don't confuse correlation with causality. I am not saying OS study is not a factor, but if these guys are all highly motivated achievers with excellent results etc, the OS study is just one plank in the entire process.

Jan 14, 2015
ibhopeful532:
    Technical skills are commodities than can be bought on the market given the right price, but experiences, personal growth, and relationships are the qualities in a candidate can not be valued in dollars and cents

Well put! Anyone can be a spread sheet monkey if they try hard enough, but you stand out if your well-rounded on top of that.

Jan 14, 2015

Just one thing if it's not clear from my posting....

No where do I directly argue that one should do study abroad BECAUSE it leads to a job in IBD. In fact, if one's goal is to explicitly get IBD, I'm not sure how much study abroad helps. What I am saying is that in the grand scheme of things, it's valuable as a LIFE EXPERIENCE.

Jan 14, 2015
ibhopeful532:

What I am saying is that in the grand scheme of things, it's valuable as a LIFE EXPERIENCE.

Agreed

Jan 14, 2015

You guys don't have to complete at least one semester abroad to be graduated ? I know in Europe it's pretty common to do so, and at my scool for instance, if you don't have an experience abroad (exchance semester in an university or an internship), you can say goodbye to the degree.

Jan 14, 2015

Not trying to flame, but having lived abroad for a number of years, I think you are overestimating the value of spending time in a foreign country. Unless your study abroad program puts you in the middle of nowhere, you will likely be surrounded by other priveleged Americans using their time (almost invariably in England or Australia) to drink "real beer" and pretend to develop a fondness for soccer, rugby, and/or cricket, while discussing with one another just how worldy they not only have become, but, in retrospect, really "always have been."

If you're already worldly enough to recognize the unworldliness of Americans, you won't actually develop abroad. You might learn one or two new things (the Brits put vinegar on their "chips!") but I'd bet the net result of such an experience is a tendency toward priggishness upon one's return.

(If you're planning on going abroad to sub-saharan Africa to work on malaria treatment, then ignore this post.)

Jan 14, 2015

I have been all over the UK and I do not consider myself "worldly". You want to gain a solid experience then go to China or India. People really need to stop thinking that because they spent time in Western Europe they are somehow more in touch with the world.

Jan 14, 2015

pink305, you can never go wrong with studying abroad... I lived in Germany of a little over a year, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life! After Germany, I came back to the States and finished my under grad in finance, then landed a job as an analyst right out of school. They told me (after I was hired) the one defining fact I was able to stand out among other applicants was my international experience.
If anything, studying abroad will never hinder you... just as long as you truly attempt to embrace the culture where you're studying (i.e. don't move abroad and hang out with people from your home country)!

Jan 14, 2015

I would love to study abroad and truly embrace myself in the culture but my concern is whether or not studying abroad for a semester will outweigh me forgoing my leadership positions on campus. I was already born outside the US and speak 3+ languages so I'm confused whether or not studying abroad will add any value.

Jan 14, 2015

I don't see how you couldn't take advantage of leadership positions abroad... I would think of you're abroad university as an extension of your state side university.
If that is your major concern, look into those positions at the university you would be studying at.

Jan 14, 2015

Don't worry about whether or not it's "looked upon favorably". You already got a summer internship (and more or less a FT offer if you work hard) lined up. Just live your life dude

Jan 14, 2015

Studying abroad was one of the best academic decisions that I ever made. Not only would you get to learn a bit about a foreign culture, but you will build friendships that last a life time and probably learn a lot about yourself as well as whatever country you live in.

That being said, banks do not really care are studying abroad. GPA, SAT scores, internships, etc. are all much more important.

Jan 14, 2015

I studied abroad at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and played an unbelievable amount of golf. I also got plenty of mileage out of the experience in interviews...definitely worth it, no question. Frankly, when I'm interviewing kids, I look on it as a neutral experience, academically/professionally (unless they did something unusual, like a special research project, internship, or some kind of charity work). In terms of being able to tell a good story in an interview, though, it's usually great for the interviewees...anything to help me remember the candidate is a plus, and that includes stories about exploring other countries.

Jan 14, 2015

Immersing yourself in a foreign culture expands your perspective in invaluable ways. This has been pointed out and validated by some of the smartest and most successful people I have encountered, from professors at schools like Stanford to chief executives at companies with $billion+ market caps to hedgefund managers.

That said, the pervasive attitude I've encountered (in the States) among less-senior management is something along the lines of "why the fuck would you ever want to leave the US?" -- especially when the experience abroad in question was in a developing nation. This insular attitude is unfortunate, especially considering the expected growth and opportunities in countries like China and India over the coming decades.

Jan 14, 2015

It definately is a good experince for yourself personally, and as stated above it also gives you something interesting to talk about in interviews. I have studied abroad during the summer of my soph year in college. I had an internship my fresh year, but not my soph year. So, instead of having an "empty" summer I took the opportunity to study abroad. I would recommend it.

Jan 14, 2015

I was asked about my study abroad in every single interview. It's a good experience, especially if you go to a good university abroad.

Jan 14, 2015

I studied abroad twice, one for each of my bachelors degrees. Both situations helped me in the interviews.[ one in Italy, one at LSE]]

Jan 14, 2015

I agree that lower level management in the usa are insular to say the least, they think study abroad is more of a party experience.

I must say that in general study abroad programs aren't as grueling as difficult upper division courses at your respective home institutiion (generally speaking), they still require study. Studying abroad puts you ahead of someone who didn't and that's the most important thing to remember.

I would also venture to say (of course I'm biased) that a person who has studied abroad generally has a more open mind than someone who spent all his years in his home country. If a guy.girl hasn't ever thought to do it, for whatever reason excluding finances, then that's an issue.

Jan 14, 2015

Thanks as always for all of your help.

Jan 14, 2015

C+. it would've been funnier/better if the duration was longer than one week

Jan 14, 2015

I wouldn't mention it. You're better off doing some work experience at a local pwm.

Jan 14, 2015

So you want to go on vacation and put it on your resume? Not really understanding haha.

Jan 14, 2015

Don't go but say you did.
+$2000 in the pocket.

Jan 14, 2015

Yea my friend smoked hash for a week in Amsterdam and got into GS TMT because of his global perspective.

Jan 14, 2015
LeveragedFiend:

Yea my friend smoked hash for a week in Amsterdam and got into GS TMT because of his global perspective.

haha classic

Jan 14, 2015

thanks for the comments... I will just go for fun i guess.

don't want to smoke hash in Amsterdam because of the drug check that banks have lol

Jan 14, 2015

I'll sell you my story of living in Asia for a year. It only costs 1000 dollars.

You can spend the other 1000 riding the hash train to GS TMT. Points are given for failing drug tests. They respect you more for not adhering to the rules.

Jan 14, 2015

study abroad because you want to, not because it would look good on a resume.

Jan 14, 2015

I could guarantee that it doesn't hurt! Not sure how much it would help but my study aborad experience was amazing.. I was in a class where my team won the final project and won $200 pound.. I also traveled around a lot, so it definitely gave me things to say during interviews i.e best experience, most difficult time (adapting to new culture, etc)..

And I second the saying do it becuase u love it!!!! I would do it again in a heart beat!

Ling~

Ling~

Jan 14, 2015

First, do it because you love it. Studying abroad was the best thing I did in my four years of university studies.

Second, yes, it will look great on your resume and shows bigger initiative than you think. Banks like to know that you're not afraid to step out of your usual comfort zone and build a whole new network in a new place; it indicates you're a self starter. Adaptability is also one of the biggest characteristics that banks are looking for in behavioral interviewing and adapting to a new lifestyle by studying abroad definitely proves that. It also improves your business/communication skills on an international level (because there really IS a difference in my opinion)... banking is a GLOBAL business and working with people across the world will be common so being abroad is exposure to that too... there are a million ways to spin it, there is no way studying abroad can be a bad thing, especially if your study abroad program includes an internship while you study as mine did...

finally, you also get the chance to meet a lot of new people and build a network that you wouldnt be able to do just sitting in the US. My network from studying and interning abroad changed my whole direction and landed me my full time offer.. I'm now moving to the country where I studied abroad to join a major NY BB as an analyst... If I didnt go, would have probably never looked beyond NY for banking.

Good luck.

Jan 14, 2015

I agree with most of the points above. I studied abroad and it was the highlight of my college career, hands down. I made amazing friends that I still stay in touch with today. However, job search wise, it hasn't done much. I've gone through interviews with BB's and MM banks, and at most, it's just something they briefly ask about, but has never played a significant role in the conversation.

Jan 14, 2015

Even if recruiters do not care about studying abroad, it really helps you personally. You not only grow and become more independent, but the relationships and friendships your forge in the foreign country will last a lifetime. If you will not miss out on recruiting, internships, or anything, do it.

Jan 14, 2015

Honestly, it really depends. I've heard conflicting things about study abroad and how it affects IB recruiting. Some believe that it gives you interesting things to talk about in interviews. Others believe that it messes with the networking/recruiting timeline, and that if IB is truly what you wish to attain you're better served skipping it.

I'm starting FT over the summer and I studied abroad for 7 months in China during the summer after sophomore year and fall of my junior year. I must admit, I wasn't able to land a good summer IB internship from a semi-target/target school, although granted my GPA was sub-par. However, I ended up doing fine in FT recruiting and was able to use study abroad as a story and connect with my interviewers.

Here's what I think about it though. Study abroad is an absolutely life-changing experience -- no other time in your life arguably will you able to just pick up and go somewhere completely new and gain a fresh perspective on life. It was an invaluable experience for me that taught me true independence and gave me a more mature, worldly view. I wouldn't trade it for the world. IB is just one job... study abroad can be absolutely life-changing. If you truly want to study abroad, then by all means, DO IT. Don't let IB sway your decision on it. If you want to do IB and study abroad, it's certainly doable, even if it takes a little more effort on your part.

Best of luck.

Jan 14, 2015
Bob Loblaw:

Study abroad is an absolutely life-changing experience -- no other time in your life arguably will you able to just pick up and go somewhere completely new and gain a fresh perspective on life. It was an invaluable experience for me that taught me true independence and gave me a more mature, worldly view..

So romantic... poor kid never set foot outside of his country.

How many stamps do you have in your passport (just asking cause you are smitten by your study abroad experience)

Power and Money do not change men; they only unmask them

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Jan 14, 2015

Thanks guys I really appreciate the advice!

Jan 14, 2015

Study abroad is not something that you should be thinking about to bolster your resume...you should do it because you have class 2 days a week that you don't even have to go to, and you can travel and dick around the other 99% of the time. When you go abroad, forget about academics, your job, resume, etc., and just have a great time. You literally will never have the chance to do that again.

Jan 14, 2015

I have zero stamps in my passport...but that is because the EU doesn't stamp between countries.
That being said,

I'm currently abroad right now. It has somewhat messed with my recruiting process but I wouldn't trade it for anything. On all my phone interviews it's been a good thing to talk about and It hasn't affected me too much. I was flown back for an interview with a BB, but it showed more dedication and enthusiasm to have flown transatlantic just for an interview and flying back.
Other interviewers expressed their concerns, while others have made accommodations for it.
I'm still searching for a SA position but have a final interview later today and a few first round interviews still to come.

Well worth it though. You learn a lot and experience stuff you cannot find anywhere else. Even just traveling throughout Europe exposes you to different types of culture. Some you may hate, some you may love. Either way, I'm making great friends, having a blast, and still gaining some cultural experience that will never leave me.

Jan 14, 2015

Go abroad, I'm glad you included that last sentence. What you do after freshman year is of little importance honestly, and going abroad is a cool experience. Always a nice topic to talk about to if you go somewhere that your interviewer has been before as well.

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Jan 14, 2015
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Jan 14, 2015