Ever since I graduated college I was adamant about finding a way to work abroad. I have always loved to travel and have been fortunate enough to visit many places across the world, but I wanted more that just the tourist’s experience. I knew that working abroad would allow me not only to learn about another culture, but I could gain valuable insights for my industry learning how things are done differently across the world. More than anything though, it was something I wanted to do to grow as a person and push myself to toward the adventure of a lifetime. Last year, I finally made it happen and had an incredible experience living and working in Sydney, Australia.
There are tons of you out there who might be dreaming of going abroad but don’t know where to start. The first step to prepare for your work abroad experience is to convince yourself that nothing is impossible. The idea of picking up your life and moving to a foreign place may seem overwhelming, but there are many helpful organizations, websites and guides that can direct you to all the resources you need. The best thing to do is start planning far enough out, so you have adequate time to arrange everything before you arrive.
Even after convincing yourself about the move, you might have a bit of trouble justifying this decision to parents and other skeptics. My best friend from college recently announced to his parents that he was planning to move Budapest, Hungary. At first, his parents thought he was kidding. I can only image the look on his mother’s face! Once they realized he was serious, they tried to use there parently powers to stop him. As parents do, they drilled him with questions, but he was prepared with an answer to snuff all of their concerns. The way he tells it, he “schooled them”! Lesson learned, doing research and being prepared is half the battle.
Remind doubters that work abroad shows employers that you are an independent, risk-taker, flexible, and savvy about cross-cultural issues. In almost every interview I have had since coming back from abroad, I have talked about my experience and used it toward my advantage.
It is true that work permits can sometimes be a little hard to get, depending on what you want to do, but there are also a ton of companies that can help you find the type of work you are looking for after paying them a finder’s fee.
If you are open to it, working abroad can change your life. Just remember, if there’s a will, there’s a way.
5 things to start with:
- Visit the country’s consulate in your city to discuss visa options
- Research websites, blogs, forums and other online resources
- Read books and travel guides about the country
- Watch movies that may feature the city or country you are going to
- Browse YSN and look for members in the country you are going to, start talking to people about their home and culture!
Some helpful websites to get you going:
* We would love to hear the experiences from those of you who have already worked abroad or are doing so right now! Tell us in your own blog or in response to this one 🙂