How to Work Abroad

Three Parts:Planning AheadFinding EmploymentWorking as a Student

Not everyone wants to live and work in the country that they were born in, but finding work in a foreign country can be a daunting experience. Every situation is different and depends on the policies of the originating and destination country, as well as the industry, experience and background of the person seeking work. There are, however, some recommended ways to find work abroad, whether you are seeking permanent employment or just want to see more of the world.

Part 1
Planning Ahead

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    Choose a location. You might be certain that you want to work in a certain location, or just excited about the prospect of working abroad and ready to pursue any opportunity in any country. Either way, you’ll need to start with a specific location so that you can research the requirements to find work there.
    • You will want to look into the cost of living, the potential salary you can earn, housing possibilities, as well as living standards for any country that you are considering.[1]
    • The CIA World Factbook, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and similar organizations maintain lots of information about nations of the world.[2][3] Reviewing this information can help you decide where you want to work.
    • For any location you are considering, you should also think about its attitudes toward foreigners in general as well as things like safety, human rights, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc.[4]
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    Research and obtain any necessary permits and regulations.[5] To work abroad in most countries, you will need to obtain a work visa from that country, or a visa that allows certain types of work.[6][7] Each nation has specific and individual laws regarding foreign workers, so make sure to research these when deciding where you want to work abroad.
    • Make sure to learn your home country’s tax laws, in addition to meeting the requirements for working in the country abroad. For instance, you may be required to pay taxes to your home country on money earned abroad, in addition to taxes paid in the country of work.[8]
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    Decide if you want short-term or long-term work.[9] Knowing whether or not you want to spend an extended period of time working abroad will help you when seeking a position overseas. Some programs are specifically designed for short-term workers, while long-term employment abroad can lead to a more immersive experience.
    • When deciding how long to work abroad, you should also consider how the idea fits into your other obligations and plans (school, family, career path, etc.).
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    Figure out if you want to find a job and then move, or move first and find a job once you are abroad.[10] Either option may be viable, depending on your situation and location. Having a job lined up beforehand can streamline the process of working abroad, as well as reduce anxiety. On the other hand, waiting to find a job until you are in your location can allow you to get abroad sooner. Moreover, you may find it easier to look for a job once you are able to meet other people and learn about the location first-hand.
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    Learn about the language and culture.[11] Immersing yourself in the language and culture of a nation abroad is the best way to gain real international experience. However, you can prepare to work abroad, and make yourself a more viable job candidate, by learning as much as you can beforehand.
    • See if a local university or other institution offers a course in the language of the nation you are hoping to work in.
    • Look for online study courses.
    • Follow a program of self-study to learn the language.
    • At the very least, study basic words and phrases (greetings, “please,” “thank you,” numbers, etc.) before you go.
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    Develop special skills that will be valued abroad.[12] If you have skills in a technical area, trade, or high-demand field—such as medicine, engineering, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)—it may be easier to find work abroad. Consider gaining skills in such an area before seeking work overseas.

Part 2
Finding Employment

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    Familiarize yourself with resources for finding jobs abroad. Once you have narrowed down the location, you will need to start investigating how to find work in the country of your choice. Research databases like the U.S. State Department’s extensive list of resources for expatriates and those seeking work abroad.[13] This information can give you a general overview of the kinds of programs, support, and placement services that can help you find work abroad.
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    Seek an overseas position with a company or organization based in your home country.[14] [15] One of the easiest ways to find work abroad is to shift to an international position in a company or organization that you already work for. If it has offices or positions abroad, inquire about these.
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    Find a government job. Governments are responsible for many jobs for foreigners. You may be able to seek work abroad directly by applying to an overseas job with your government. Alternatively, you may be able to work for your government in your home country, and then shift to an international position later.
    • Some specific programs, such as International Organization Careers, help connect applicants to jobs with government organizations abroad.[16]
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    Work for a nonprofit.[17] Non-governmental organizations and nonprofits can also provide exciting work opportunities abroad. You can start by looking into those organizations which have an international presence, and see if any of them have positions available overseas.
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    Volunteer abroad.[18] If you can’t find paid employment overseas, you can seek volunteer work instead. This can be equally rewarding and lead to immersive and unique international experiences. Check with governmental and non-governmental organizations, religious centers, and other groups that often have volunteer opportunities abroad.
    • Some volunteer opportunities can provide a stipend or other support (housing, a food allowance, etc.) that can help fund your time abroad.
    • If you are volunteering abroad, you may also be able to raise money beforehand in your community or through a crowdfunding campaign to help support you while you are overseas.
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    Use a placement service. If you want to streamline the process of finding work abroad, you can use a service that specializes in connecting interested individuals with overseas employment opportunities.[19][20][21] There may be a fee or other requirements for using these services, but they can take some of the hard work off your hands.
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    Consider other forms of employment. In addition to working for a company, government, non-profit, or other established organization, you could also seek less-traditional or irregular employment abroad.[22][23] As long as you follow the laws and regulations of your destination and home countries, you may also be able to work abroad by:
    • Serving as an au pair
    • Busking
    • Writing freelance journalism or other work
    • Giving informal lessons (language, music, etc.)
    • Serving as a private tour guide for tourists
    • Farming; the organization World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), or instance, connects people with agricultural employment overseas.[24]

Part 3
Working as a Student

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    Discover the resources that are available to you. Students have lots of opportunities to work abroad, since many colleges and universities are very supportive of international experiences. If you are a student, one of the first things you should do is contact your school about your plans to see what resources are available to help you.
    • Many colleges and universities have an office of international education or study abroad; it may also be able to help you find work overseas.[25][26][27]
    • Programs such as STA Travel and the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) are intended to help students travel, study, and work abroad.[28][29] One or more of these organizations may even have a representative or office on your campus.
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    Look for special student programs. Some programs offer special work opportunities designed for current or recent students. These programs work to place applicants with jobs abroad, ranging from entry-level to highly specialized. In addition, these programs may offer support (language instruction, health care, housing, etc.) that can be a big help when working abroad. Examples of these programs include:
    • International Organization Careers[30]
    • The Fulbright Programs[31]
    • The Peace Corps[32]
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    Seek an internship abroad.[33] Internships can provide experience that will be valuable for future employment; by working an internship abroad, you will gain even richer knowledge, expertise, and training. Contact your school’s international education or study abroad office about overseas internship opportunities to get ideas.
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    Seek academic credit for work abroad. If your work abroad is potentially related to your academic program, you may be able to see credit for working abroad, as is often the case with internships. Contact your academic program about this possibility well before going abroad so that you have time to plan and coordinate.

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Categories: Work World