After Graduation: International Careers & Opportunities
Making Your Choice
One of the first things you will need to consider is where you want to go. This is an important consideration since it might affect the kind of job you obtain - some countries are so impoverished that they may offer few or no jobs. Also, it will determine from which programs you can obtain a work permit for the country of your choice. Unfortunately, finding a job overseas is not as simple as getting on a plane and starting to look for work when you land. This approach to finding a job abroad is not advisable. Prior to making a commitment to going overseas, your best bet is to carefully research the countries where you are interested in working.
Short Term Paid Opportunities
A short-term overseas job, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to about six months, is an economic way to experience another culture while you earn your way through an adventure abroad. The typical job you can expect to obtain varies from working in a restaurant/hotel, an office, a shop, as an au pair or working outdoors. The kind of work you choose to do will depend on your skills and your willingness to be flexible and open to what is available. Keep in mind that although the job may not necessarily relate to your long-term career goals you will develop effective transferable job skills.
There are opportunities to teach overseas in nearly every foreign country. Most positions seek English teachers, and require a Bachelor’s Degree. If you know the English language well, are willing to commit to at least one year, and have an outgoing personality, there is a good chance that you'll be able to find a position teaching abroad. By living and working abroad for a substantial amount of time, you will have the opportunity to become fully immersed in another culture, and you will simultaneously boost your marketability for other international positions in the future.
US Teaching Assistantships at Austrian Secondary Schools
Cultural Ambassadors: North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain
Teaching Assistant Program in France
Fulbright US Student Program, English Teaching Assistant
Finding a Position
To find a position, you can either work with an organized placement program, or conduct research on your own. Some of the programs charge a fee, but will often place you and arrange for your accommodations and work permit. Others are actually organizations recruiting for positions abroad, so there will be no fee. In general, apply to programs one year before you want to start teaching. If you use your own resources, you can look for a job either before you leave, sending resumes and using any contacts you may have; or after you arrive, applying in person (remember to learn about work permits for the particular country before you go). Although it is possible to find a job once you arrive in a given country, it is usually easier to obtain the necessary permits while still in the U.S. Public schools, private language schools, and universities are places to search for work.
An international internship can provide you with training related to your college major and career goals. Internships are available in practically every country in the world for most industries, although these opportunities are very competitive. The benefits include being immersed in an international atmosphere, gaining a competitive advantage in the international job market, and having the opportunity to learn valuable and transferable job skills.
Types of Internships
There is no limit to the type or field of internship that you can pursue. There are opportunities in many industries including business (banking, technical, economics, marketing), communications (advertising, journalism, publishing), arts (fashion, applied arts), tourism (hotel management), and social sciences (law). The majority of internships are unpaid, although in business, agriculture, engineering, and private industry compensation is more likely. These wages would probably be enough money to cover basic living expenses. Please note, if you are solely interested in a general working abroad experience it may be easier and more lucrative to find a paid position not necessarily related to your long term career goals.
Many international internships are actually located here in the United States, mostly in New York and Washington. Most often these are through corporations and government agencies, such as the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, the World Bank, and many non-government (non-profit) organizations who offer internships in their U.S. based offices.
Finding the Right One
There are several ways to find internships. You can go through a placement program, however you will most likely be charged a fee. Some of these are reciprocal exchange programs where you are practically guaranteed placement if you can find an opportunity here in the United States for an international student. These programs include the International Association of Students in Economics and Business Management (AIESEC), specializing in the placement of business and economics students; and the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE), placing engineering, architecture, and natural science students.
Another option is a self-arranged internship. This requires doing the work yourself, finding a position based on your own research, sending resumes, and networking. Many students each year find positions through their own efforts, but it takes resourcefulness and initiative. Positions at larger organizations will be more competitive, so you may want to target smaller companies, even if they do not have a formalized internship program. The Directory of International Internships describes different types of internships in many countries. Many universities sponsor study/work abroad programs which include an internship component. In most cases you are assisted in finding a placement. However, you must pay for your tuition and these programs are usually very competitive and often unpaid. Government and arts internships are easier to secure this way.
Volunteering abroad is, for many, a very attractive and viable option. It is particularly good for acquiring experience with humanitarian or service-oriented organizations and scientific expeditions. Volunteer opportunities tend to be plentiful in underdeveloped nations. For American students, volunteering is often the only way to work in many Third World countries. Some of these countries are often so impoverished that they cannot afford to provide financial support to foreign visitors. However, volunteering abroad allows students to be totally immersed in a foreign culture, while providing a much needed service to developing countries.
Overseas volunteer positions may be short-term, lasting anywhere from two weeks to six months, or long-term, lasting one or two years. The opportunities you seek will depend on the country of your choice, your available resources (time, money, etc.) and your flexibility. Volunteer opportunities abroad may provide none, some, or all of the following: Round-trip airfare, housing, food, a stipend and insurance. Research your options thoroughly so that you may adequately assess your needs.
The work permit will be the primary document you will need to work overseas, however, you will also need to consider other things, such as, obtaining or renewing your current passport, securing the visa, health insurance, money and finding a place to live when you get there. As you research the programs that may be appropriate for you, explore with them whether or not they cover some of the expenses for the aforementioned. Some programs may include the costs for insurance, securing the visa and housing in their fees. In most cases, you will be responsible for airfare and survival funds (recommended $800 to $1000).