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Working Abroad

Short Term Opportunity Resources

  • BUNAC – This organization offers a wide range of work and volunteer opportunities in a wide range of timelines
  • CIEE (Council for International Educational Exchange) – This organization offers a wide range of work and volunteer opportunities in a wide range of timelines
  • Au Pair Wizard – Find childcare/housekeeping work in exchange for room and board
  • World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming - Find farm work in exchange for room and board
  • Interexchange – This organization coordinates volunteer, work, and travel opportunities
  • Linguistic Funland – A site listing opportunities to teach English abroad
  • People Recruit – This site was created by a Korean recruiting company, which will help you with everything from finding a job to your first day at work

Long Term Opportunity Resources

 

Working Abroad FAQs

How likely is it for me to find and secure an international job?

This depends entirely on the time and space of the job search and job market.  Things to keep in mind are politics and laws like Right to Work laws, which essentially give preference to domestic over international candidates.

 

What are my options for working abroad?

For most students and recent graduates, your best bet is to go through placement programs for working or teaching abroad. Students (especially at the graduate level) can also find their own placements abroad, sometimes with help from their professors.

 

Do I need a visa to work abroad?

In most cases, you will need a special type of visa known as a work permit. Some countries even require work permits for unpaid internships or volunteering. Working for pay without a work permit is usually illegal and may put you at risk of deportation. Placement programs focused on working abroad can usually help arrange for a work permit. If you are not going through a work abroad program, a work permit can usually only be obtained with assistance from your overseas employer. Most countries give information about work visas on their Embassy's web site. See embassy.org.

 

What kinds of jobs are available to me after I graduate?

There are quite a variety of options. One very basic consideration is how long you want to work abroad. 

 

There are many options for those that want to work abroad for a short amount of time (See the “Short Term Opportunity Resources” section above).   Some programs are limited in duration to several months, or in some cases up to a year.  Note that some programs may be available only within a semester of graduation, or may have an upper age limit for participation (typically age 30 or 35). If you're willing to commit to a year, programs for teaching English abroad would be an excellent choice, as would fellowship programs such as Fulbright. Finally, for those willing to commit to a stay abroad of two years or more, there are programs such as the Peace Corps.

 

There are also options for people that want to make a career abroad.  Check out the “Long Term Opportunity Resources” section above and note that there is unfortunately far less support in this type of job search.  One option to consider is to find a job with a company that does business abroad or vice-versa.  Often people will work for these companies domestically in an entry level position and through moving up the ranks, will eventually have the opportunity to work and make a life abroad.

 

I'm considering working in a foreign language environment, but I'm not sure my language skills are good enough. What do employers expect from foreign employees or interns?

Of course, you can work in a country in which English is the local language, especially since programs like BUNAC make it easy to work in Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

 

Note that it's not always necessary to speak the language (if other than English) of the host country. For example, teachers of English as a foreign language are rarely required to know the host country's language. If you do choose to work in a foreign language that you've already studied, communicating in a foreign language at the workplace is certainly one of the most challenging parts of working abroad, but it should not intimidate you for several reasons. First, you will be surprised at how comfortable you become in the language, since you will be immersed in it every day. Second, employers understand that you are not a native speaker and will have a certain level of patience for language difficulties you might have. Be ready to work hard, but most likely you won't be required to independently publish reports in a language in which you aren't completely fluent. Finally, your superiors will be excited to have someone from another country working with them and will want their company to make a good impression on you. In short, do not be intimidated. The atmosphere probably won't be as stressful as you think.

 

I need to find my own housing. I am totally lost. Where should I start looking?

Just showing up in a foreign country and finding a place to live is certainly a challenge, but it is not as difficult as it might sound. Research can be done in advance or you can begin your search after you arrive and stay in a youth hostel until you find a room. Usually, university or student housing postings are a great place to start looking. Information can usually be found online, in local newspapers, or on public posting boards on university campuses. Also, while your employer or work-abroad program might require that you find your own housing, this doesn't mean they won't provide you with any help. Most likely, they have assisted others in the past and know the best places to start looking. Be aware that housing is a significant cost. In addition to monthly payments, most landlords require an up-front security deposit, so be prepared to make a sizeable cash payment directly upon arrival.

 

How can I prepare for cultural differences and feelings of homesickness or loneliness when I'm abroad? How will I feel when I finally come home after a long time abroad?

You might experience culture shock both when you go abroad and (more unexpectedly) when you return, since being immersed in a foreign culture changes the way you view your own. Usually returnees are excited to see friends and family, but there is certainly a chance that you will find yourself bored after a few weeks at home. While you were off having the time of your life, having new experiences every day, life at home has probably not changed much since you left. When you get back you might want to embrace your culture again or even be tempted to reject it. Either way, you should give yourself time to readapt before forming any permanent opinions about your home.

 

What will I need in order to work abroad?

Check out the “Departure Checklist” (Coming Soon) for some things you should consider.

 

What type of experience do I need in order to work abroad?

With a Bachelor’s degree you will be qualified for most entry level positions.  In general, a Master’s degree is optimum for most international careers.  You could build on your experience by getting an internship in your field of study.  Some employers might even look for students that have experience living and/or working abroad, which you could get by studying abroad.  Ultimately, the amount of experience you need depends on the type of job you want and even how long you want to work abroad.  Doing your research and networking will take you a long way.