Bringing It Back Home: How To Market Your IQP Experience

Filed in From the Staff by on January 16, 2013

Arriving back from South Africa last month, it's been interesting explaining what my project team did abroad in a concise and appealing way.

“My IQP is actually what made a big difference in my interview for the job I have now.  My company reps were really impressed with what I did, and spent over 20 minutes asking me about it!

In so many words, I’ve heard this said from dozens of my alumni friends from WPI.  Between hearing this and being able to go abroad for two months with 20+ classmates, I couldn’t wait to go abroad this past semester!  We made a huge difference in our community and had an absolute blast outside of project work.  But how does my project course work in Cape Town relate to me getting a job after college?

Knowing how to market yourself on paper and in person can make or break opportunities that present themselves after college years.  In an environment that fosters networking and interpersonal communication, you have to be ready on the spot to explain why your experiences and skills, including those found abroad, will make you the candidate a company chooses to hire.

Below I’ve outlined some of the main skills acquired from an IQP to put on a resume, as well as what I would say as an elevator pitch to potential employers about my project:

Being a part of such a collaborative atmosphere abroad is a very appealing quality to employers!


Learning research skills and ethics

Between preparing for your IQP in ID2050 and PQP, you and your teammates needed to understand how to find a significant amount of information online, and package it into something useful for your site.  Flaunt that!

Experiencing cross-cultural immersion and communication

Working to create something new and innovative, practical and user-friendly in a previously unknown culture?  And knowing how to communicate ideas and concepts effectively to your partners abroad?  Yeah, write that down.

New working environments and cultural norms make every day in an IQP a challenge.

Working independently and as a team player

There’s never enough time to get everything done in an IQP abroad that your group would like — but, there is time in an interview to explain your individual contributions and how those helped the team as a whole.

Understanding societal impacts and challenges to success

What exactly did you produce?  Why was it useful to that society abroad?  How did you overcome the challenges presented to your team?  Did anything change in your project – if so (since it’s likely that something did), how did you handle it professionally?

Gaining new perspectives on the world and how it operates

You just spent two months in a different culture, where varying values, beliefs, and working standards are likely very different from the United States.  You were exposed to the world outside of the American bubble – relay how that has helped you grow as a person!

Whether on site or exploring Cape Town, fostering a healthy community and supporting one another was a key theme of Cape Town!


An employer checks my resume at the Spring Career Fair and asks me what my study abroad was really all about.  I doubt he wants to hear this for more than 60 seconds, but he expects a good reply and he wants to be impressed.  Here’s my rendition of the “IQP elevator pitch,” and I encourage you all to think of one for your projects, too!

“Well, for two months I was part of a five-person team that worked in an informal settlement on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, where the 500-person community called Mtshini Wam was going through an innovative process called ‘reblocking.’  Reblocking is a partnership effort that upgrades shack homes into sustainable materials and places them into roads and clusters, and we were responsible for helping to improve this process, since they had limited organizational and human resources.  Reblocking opened up the community to bulk services such as electricity and running water, and we were not only able to help them improve their process to finish before their deadline, but we also brought in community developments including low-cost lighting, gardening, and carpentry solutions.”

Moral of the story?  IQPs develop WPI students and bring them into the real world, from project work to job opportunity.  Don’t be afraid to show yours off and let others know how much you gained from it!

Until next time,






About the Author ()

Hey there! My name's Adam and I'm currently a senior at WPI majoring in Management Engineering, focus in Operations Management. On campus I'm involved in Greek Life, Undergraduate Admissions, and campus programming. My blog topics will be focused primarily on staying focused and realistic when it comes to career building, as well as personal improvements and confidence builders in knowing yourself and your skill set. If you have any suggestions for topics or improvements along the way, feel free to let me know at any point! Keep searching, Adam

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