As companies continue to become more global, there are greater opportunities to work overseas. Working abroad gives you a fantastic chance to learn about a culture by total immersion. It’s also a great chance to discover your own independence. Employers find international experience impressive on a resume because it communicates your flexibility, adaptability, and sense of adventure.
There are generally five different international experiences available for young adults:
• Internship/job with a local company in a foreign country
• Internship/job with a multinational company in a foreign country
• Internship/job with the U.S. governmental agency (foreign service)
• Teaching English as a second language
• Volunteer position or public service in a foreign country
Do your research before going abroad
Discover what skills you can offer and which industry and region would be a good match. If you’re looking to work in:
• Textiles try Hong Kong, India, Spain, or Afghanistan
• Electronic or transportation industries try Japan
• Hospitality & tourism try Italy, Jamaica, Greece, or Thailand
• Teaching English as a second language can be either short or long term and is an option in almost every non-English speaking country.
Study the culture, language, politics, and history of the region
Companies are more likely to hire someone with cultural knowledge than one without. This research will also help you better find a country you would like to work in. Find out the government red tape you’ll need to work through; different countries will have different requirements, but, overall, most will want three things:
• Work visa
• Form of identification.
What you’ll need
If you don’t have a passport already, you will need to fill out an application at a Passport Acceptance Facility. Be sure to bring the required items:
• Proof of U.S. citizenship (a birth certificate or certification of citizenship)
• A valid I.D. (an expired passport, driver’s license, etc)
• Two 2”x2” color passport photos
• Payment for the application fee.
More specific information on U.S. passports and policies can be found at http://travel.state.gov/passport/.
For most countries, you’ll also need a work visa and employment before travelling. The U.K., for example, will not allow foreigners to enter the country looking for work; they must be hired beforehand. It’s a very good idea to ask your new company to sponsor your application. A letter of recommendation from a citizen of your destination is also very helpful.
To apply for a visa, you must first contact the prospective country’s U.S. consulate. You can a find list of locations here: http://www.usembassy.gov/. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time when applying for either document, as it can take months to go through or, in the case of a visa, your application is rejected and you have to try again.
Don’t get intimidated: the characteristics of a good employee look the same no matter where you go. If you can work here, you can work anywhere.
Sarah Wimberly is a Florida native, librarian, and recent graduate of Mississippi College.