While most students look forward to spending their summers by the beach or pool, summers can also be a great time to pursue personal growth and experiences. One way to do so is to attend a summer school abroad. In addition to making great summer memories, attending a summer school is also a great opportunity to develop soft-skills such as communicating in a foreign environment, problem-solving, and being adaptable to unusual situations.
These days, more and more employers value the international experience gained during semesters abroad due to the belief that being abroad, especially for an extended period of time, allows one to develop a broadened worldview and understanding. Attending a summer school requires less time and financial commitment than a semester or two abroad, but offers equally great personal and professional growth.
Take Shanghai Summer School for example. Coming to Shanghai or even China for the first time, you will be immersed in a completely new environment and a mind-boggling, tongue-twisting new language. From the first step you take out of the plane, you are forced to step out of your comfort zone. The simplest and most regular activities that you’re used to doing back home suddenly become challenges – withdrawing money at an ATM, ordering food at the local eateries and basic communication with the locals are suddenly more complicated than you’re used to. But through facing and overcoming these little challenges, you will find that you will have grown more resilient, better at solving problems, and more sensitive to the world around you.
While you certainly shouldn’t oversell your experience, you also do not want your experience abroad to go unnoticed, because studying abroad does make one a more desirable job candidate. Prospective employers have a general idea of the skills one acquires from having spent some time abroad and value that, but you cannot go wrong by bringing it to their attention in a way that accentuates your experience and skills.
Now how exactly can you do so?
Step 1: Think of what you have learned during the summer school.
Once you get home, sit down and have a think about how you as a person changed after attending summer exchange.
Think about what was the primary goal of attending summer school? At Shanghai Summer School, some people attend with the main aim of picking up the Chinese language, some are particularly interested in talks about Chinese culture and business, some just want to see what China is all about. In fact, exchange experience in a radically different country such as China, which has been in the spotlight in recent years, is in itself a magnet for companies seeking ambitious, bold individuals who dare to venture.
Step 2: Now, select appropriate skills and describe them.
To decide what the “appropriate skills” to highlight are, you need to know what you’re looking for in your professional career, and to list out what are the skills valued by the companies or industries you’re interested in. Imagine being on the other side of the interview table, reading the applicants’ resumes – what is it about your experiences that would make you stand out in the hundreds of other job applications?
It also takes some ingenuity to properly describe the experience. Specific knowledge itself is not worth much if you are not able to apply it in real life, and neither is it useful if it is not relevant to the specific job role. Think about how your experience and knowledge can actually help to solve and improve the real environment. Help your prospective employers draw the dots. It’s not your newly acquired Chinese language skills that will necessarily get you the job. But it could make all the difference if you simply highlight that the Chinese-speaking market is 1.2 billion strong, and that your Chinese language skills will open countless new doors for the company’s sales.
Step 3: Prove it, make sure prospective employers see it
Be confident, step out from the crowd, take pride in your life experiences, tell people that you’ve attended summer school in the largest city in the world!
Present your experience in physical form – sum it up in your CV and attach documents proving your words. At the end of summer exchanges such as Shanghai Summer School, you will receive an internationally recognised certificate from Donghua University, proving you have completed a certain number of hours of Chinese lessons, as well as a letter of recommendation summarizing your participation, growth and time spent in an international environment.
Lastly and most importantly, don’t let your Instagram posts be the only proof of your summer exchange. Highlight your participation in Shanghai Summer School on professional platforms such as LinkedIn (if you do not have an account yet, it’s time you created one!). Add your summer exchange abroad to your list of educational milestones and elaborate on the experience in the description. Even better, write an introspective post on your summer exchange experience, tell your connections what you have learned, who you have met. Tag the summer school you attended, tag the people who’ve made an impression on you this summer.
Your LinkedIn profile, posts, and engagements are one of the things many companies look out for in the hiring process, so make sure it is updated and shows your experience, your ability to engage professionally, and your personality!
Shanghai Summer School strives to provide you with a summer experience unlike any other. The summer school is primarily about learning the Chinese language in an immersive way, but it’s also about going out and discovering a new culture and making meaningful connections with its people. We would even go as far as to say that delving headfirst into the bustling metropolis of Shanghai will allow one to adopt a new and expanded worldview, and a deeper understanding of cultures different than our own.
The knowledge of new languages combined with heightened cultural sensitivity and awareness has become ever more important in the global world we live in today.