Posted: March 9, 2016
Let’s imagine a situation. You’ve just completed an international Service Learning Program, you’ve been back home for a couple weeks now, and your friends and family keep commenting on ways in which they have noticed growth within you. You feel it too, you know that you have changed, that your experience abroad helped you develop new and exciting skills.
The trouble is that sometimes these skills can be hard to communicate, especially when it comes to talking with future employers. The key is to identify the key experiences that you had on your Service Learning Program and think critically about what each moment taught you. Below we have outlined some common experiences that you may have had and how these would translate into qualities that an employer is undoubtedly looking for!
Your work in India was far from a solo experience. You worked within a diverse team of personalities which meant that sometimes differences in opinions and working styles arose.
You learned how to communicate better, how to take into account multiple perspectives and come to solutions that worked best for the team not just for you as an individual. You’ve mastered the fine art of effective teamwork which is crucial to workplace success.
Progress within a company can not be achieved unless all staff members are working together. Making sure that your company’s core values and mission statement are being upheld is a task that requires unity and cohesion among your team.
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Monday rolled around and you were ready to start constructing the new shelves for the local library, however, one of the teachers from the local school is out sick and you are asked to step in and help as an English teacher for the day.
While participating on your service learning project abroad flexibility became key. You wanted to make the biggest impact possible on the local community and you realized that this often meant helping out where there was a need not just where you expected to help.
In the workplace, employers are looking for staff members who are willing to step up to the plate and complete tasks that are of the most pressing importance. Sometimes this means switching up your task list or focus for the day, without complaint!
During your time in Costa Rica, you found yourself fascinated by the cultural conceptions surrounding environmental conservation. So you dug into the topic; you conducted interviews, you researched recycling habits, and you engaged in conversations about the topic at the school where you were working.
Being successful in a job means following direction, but also not being afraid to add to the role. Employers are looking for applicants that are curious and bold enough to follow through with tasks not necessarily on their to-do list.
You are a unique member of the team that you are joining and employers want someone who is brave enough to embody this. You were hired for your own unique strengths, remember this and don’t be afraid to act on it in the workplace!
At the local school in India, students were practicing the future tense in English and you saw the potential for a great lesson plan. You talked with the head teacher and she let you implement your plan the following week. You made sure to give everyone in your group responsibilities and a role within the project.
You have experience in leadership roles. You know how to recognize other people’s talents and how to draw on them in order to successfully execute your plan. You also know how to clearly communicate and organize your ideas.
When a company hires you they are doing so partially because they believe that you are capable of the role, but also because they see potential within you. Taking on new staff is an investment and your company wants to know that you are willing to grow beyond simply the expectations that are in your original job description.
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While in Cape Town you and your group had daily space set aside for reflection on your service learning experience. You asked yourself a variety of questions pertaining to group dynamics, your personal growth and goals, and cultural sensitivity.
It’s one thing to do a job and quite another to progress within the role. Already knowing how to constructively reflect on your performance is a key component to both professional development and your ability to make informed change within the role.
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Honest reflection is one of the key ingredients to living a successful life and this is no different in the workplace. Employers want to hire workers who are continuously asking themselves how they can do an even better job within their role and then following through by making concrete action plans.
Of course, these are just a few examples of many skills that you are sure to develop on a successful international Service Learning Program. Have you identified any other key skills that we have missed out? Let us know in the comments section below.
GVI is a multi-award winning Service Learning organization. Find out more about our international service learning programs and see how students from around the world are making a difference.