Working AbroadSimilar to the process of any job search, obtaining employment abroad requires a significant amount of planning. Prior to beginning your search for a position abroad, consider your interests, goals, skills, and previous experiences. Conducting a thorough self-assessment will assist you in choosing an industry area and position that fits your needs.
Securing a position abroad is contingent upon a variety of factors. These factors include the labor market in your destination country, your particular field of interest, and your competitiveness as a candidate. While opportunities exist in most areas, it is common to find positions in the following industries: business, engineering, science, government, international development, and sustainability. The amount of time and effort it takes to secure a position varies. Short-term positions are generally the easiest to obtain. These positions include teaching English, non-government organizations, volunteering (e.g., the Peace Corps), and hospitality. Long-term positions are available, although they are usually more challenging to obtain immediately following degree completion.
Remember to use multiple job/internship search resources and strategies when applying for positions abroad. The internet, print materials, databases, networking, attending study abroad programs, and informational interviews are all common approaches. Many students find employment opportunities through organized work abroad programs. By using an agency, you benefit from their numerous employer connections and their program coordinators who help you find opportunities. If working with an agency sounds like an option for you, make sure to research the legitimacy of the agencies you are considering and understand any fees associated with their services. Once you have determined the specific opportunities you want to pursue, the next step is to begin the application process. Keep in mind that many places outside of the United States refer to a résumé as a curriculum vitae. The documents are essentially the same, but the name is different. The job/internship application process is fairly similar to that in the United States, such that résumés and cover letters are submitted and interviews are used to screen and select candidates. Despite the similarities, research your destination country and learn about their specific job/internship search process.
International Curriculum Vitae, similar to a CV in the United States, an International CV is a detailed account of your education and work experience. In most countries outside of the United States, employers will request a CV rather than a résumé. Each country will vary according to preferred format and content, so it is vital that applicants consult the CV guidelines in their preferred country. Going Global, an online subscription resource available via CareerCat, provides country specific CV recommendations and résumé samples.
Legalities of Working Abroad
Each country has different rules and regulations regarding employment of international applicants. Depending on the country and length of stay, the status of the visa may be different. While a job/internship agency will advise you and provide the paperwork, they cannot physically secure your required documentation. In most cases, you will need a special type of visa known as a work permit. Some countries also 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.
Special programs for working, interning, and volunteering abroad can usually help you arrange for a work permit. If you are not using a work abroad program, a work permit generally requires the assistance of your overseas employer. Most countries provide information about work visas on their embassy's website. Plan ahead as this process can take a significant amount of time and persistence.
Adjusting to a New Environment
Once you have successfully secured employment abroad, understand that you might experience "culture shock." Culture shock is the anxiety associated with a move to a completely new environment. Additionally, when your working abroad experience has ended, you may unexpectedly experience culture shock as you readjust to the cultural norms of the United States.
Resources and Getting Started
There are a wide range of useful resources available to assist you with your job search abroad, including websites, books, and a resource found in CareerCat called GoingGlobal. We invite you to schedule an appointment with a UCS counselor to go over resources, timelines, your career goals and get you started on created a job search plan.