With globalization an ever-larger factor in most business segments, making the decision to go abroad can give your career a definite boost. Whether you plan to work an internship or study abroad, take on a job or just travel for fun, going overseas can expand your knowledge and horizons. Here are a few tips to help you as you make this momentous life move.
1. If you are a student planning to study abroad, you’ll need to look at some different factors than someone who is going to work abroad. Look for a program that meets your specific career needs. For example, if you will need to speak Spanish, look for a program located in Mexico, Spain or another Spanish-speaking country.
2. Make sure any credits you take will apply to your current degree. Most schools have sister institutions and using an exchange service gives you the opportunity to figure out what programs are a good match for your specific needs.
3. Save your money before you leave. It’s probably best if you just focus on your studies and not work a job at the same time you’re studying abroad. You’ll already be far from home trying to learn a new language and figuring out how to navigate a new town. Adding a job to the mix may be too overwhelming, at least at first.
If you want to expand your career and take a position overseas, there are a different set of tips that will help you with this path.
4. Look for a position that will allow you to build skills you wouldn’t necessarily build here. For example, if you’re a teacher, you might teach in a poverty-stricken area in Africa or take on teaching English to students who don’t speak the language.
5. If you already have a career, talk to your company about opportunities to relocate overseas. If the company doesn’t offer this option, inquire about a leave of absence for six months or a year to pursue new knowledge. This will allow you to build your skill set and also maintain a job to come home to.
6. Give notice and leave on a positive note. If neither is an option, try to give the company enough notice that they will at least consider rehiring you when you return from your work abroad. You’ll also want a good reference from them as you seek new employment upon your return.
7. You might also decide you just want to live overseas for fun. Perhaps you have some money saved or various friends you can stay with inexpensively across Europe. Some people choose to backpack and stay in youth hostels, only working odd jobs when they need money.
Although this can be beneficial for your overall life experience, make sure you know what the purpose is as it applies to your career or it could just be seen as a gap in your resume. Be prepared to talk about the experience and what it taught you that applies to a job you’re interviewing for. For example, if you plan to work for a pharmaceutical company, you can study various plants and their medicinal properties on your journeys.
Living abroad offers many opportunities for diverse life experiences — get out there and seize them!