One of the most interesting recent employment trends is the huge number of people, both young and old, who are seeking work internationally in order to immerse themselves completely in the culture, language, and social settings of a foreign country. All of us can agree that working abroad, even for part of your career, can provide some unique benefits such as honing your skills in a foreign language, building your career network with local and international employers, and perhaps most importantly, raising your levels of flexibility and intercultural relations. The skills that you learn or develop during your time abroad will almost certainly be put to good use later on in your career when you’re back in the United States—and it might also give you a significant competitive advantage over those people who have little or no international or cross-cultural experience!
Before you order that ticket and pack your bags, though, there are several major issues for you to consider. Most importantly, you’ll need a valid passport, or else you’re not even getting on the plane. A valid form of secondary photo identification and a fair amount of savings will also come in handy, along with enough stability in your life so that you can handle being uprooted. Depending on where you’re headed, there’s a chance that you might also need a series of particular immunizations, and a large number of countries require US citizens to obtain travel visas in advance of their trip. In addition, nearly all countries require foreign workers like you to apply for and maintain a valid work visa, and this process can frequently be difficult, or at least very time consuming.
It’s important that you’re aware of the challenges that you’ll be facing, but you shouldn’t let any of them deter you from your goals. If you truly want to add a meaningful period of international work experience to make your resume stand out from the crowd, then it’s never too early to begin your pre-trip planning. There are many excellent programs which allow people to explore and develop in a variety of careers—teaching English, agriculture development, international business, and foreign relations, to name just a few! Although many of these programs cater to current college students or recent graduates, there are quite a few which can accommodate mid-career professionals. All of them, however, will require a background check, and will put you through a lengthy application process! You should also plan to allow yourself some addition time to locate a suitable position, and also to save up enough extra money in case your expenses change while you’re living abroad. Taking the time to carefully identify a suitable program and plan ahead for any contingencies can make your time working and living abroad much more rewarding, both personally and professionally.
If you’re ready to learn more about getting started on working abroad, you might want to check out “Working Abroad,” an e-book that’s available for immediate download. This 22-page guide describes some of the programs that help workers start careers in far-off places, and lists all the contact information you’ll need to get the ball rolling. Whether you’re considering student internships or short-term work, U.S. Government service or teaching English as a foreign language, this book has the tips you need to make your international job search a success. Best of luck, and Bon Voyage!