100 Ways to Maximize the Career Value of Your Time Abroad
Want to Succeed Abroad? Think Like an Entrepreneur!
Yor future employers want to know that you've been successful abroad; but succeeding takes more than just hopping on a plane and spending time away from home. Thinking ahead and planning how you'll build high-value cross-cultural experiences can make a big difference to your final outcomes. In fact, there are specific things you can do BEFORE, DURING and AFTER your stay abroad to boost the career component of your international experience.
Two ideas for building highly relevant skills while abroad are:
- Organize something -- anything! -- while abroad. You want to show future employers that you took initiative and immersed yourself in your new environment. Organizing something while based in a foreign culture proves that you're willing to take on a challenge, that you have cross-cultural communication skills, that you are organized, confident, proactive and willing to learn while taking risks. Consider organizing a social event for fellow students from your home country, other international students or (better still) local students. Target an existing group, or start a new group. Organize a small group for a fact finding trip to a neighboring city to visit a UN agency or attend a conference to meet with professionals in your field. Consider reaching out to local experts for information interviews or job shadowing. Always keep in mind that organizing something that helps your connect with locals has the highest value. The possibilities are endless (see articles below) and will be influenced by your own interests and the particulars of your host country. The most important thing is that you go out on a limb to manage, schedule and organize something which will put you in direct contact with locals. With this type of experience, you will create a solid career story to share with future employers, including specific information on how and why you were successful abroad.
- Extend your stay. This may sound simple, but adding a few weeks or months onto the end of your program abroad allows you to achieve an additional professionally oriented objective. This small action can literally double the value of your time abroad, because you'll have a completely different career-boosting experience. For example, study abroad and then volunteer, intern, work, learn a language, teach English or travel. When you're already stationed abroad, you have an open window to gain additional international experience with far less effort and expense than if you were at home planning a whole new journey. Extending your stay also proves that you're managing your time according to your own goals. So, plan to stay on after your first program abroad, and develop high-value skills and career stories.
Scan the articles below to review the full inventory of career-boosting strategies. Make notes of the approaches that appeal to you, and start planning to incorporate them into your go abroad experience. Be creative and open-minded. Strategies designed for one type of go abroad experience can often be adapted to your particular overseas experience.
Read these articles to get the BIG picture of going international:
- The Ideal International Profile: Find out what it takes to be an international person and what internationally oriented employers are looking for.
- The Long-term Approach to Career Success: Organize your high level strategies.
- 24 Ways to Go International : There are lots of ways to gain international skills, find the ways that work for you.
Read these articles to find concrete ideas for maximizing the career value of going abroad:
Scan ALL these articles before you go abroad and then modify the ideas to match your particular circumstances. If you don't have a career-oriented plan BEFORE going abroad, you're going to miss out on an important opportunity to create career stories to share with future employers. So get cracking, and plan ahead!
- Maximizing Your Travel Experience Abroad
- How to Survive Your First International Internship
- Job Hunting During Your Internship
- Three Things to Consider Before You Leave to Volunteer Abroad
- How to Professionalize Your Working Vacation
- Teaching English As a Stepping Stone to Your International Career
- Career-boosting Strategies While Studying Abroad
- Language Learning and Your International Career
- Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
- Career Tips for After Your Experience Abroad
QUIZ: Do You Have Enough International Experience?