Jetting off to live and work abroad can seem like a daunting prospect for a new graduate. If you have already found a job at home, you are likely to be warned that giving it up could be a big mistake - and that you could miss out on promotion opportunities. However, there are also exciting gains to be made by taking the plunge. Moving to another country can offer plenty of opportunities to boost your career, by building new skills and international links which will pay dividends in the future.
Travelling will also develop your self-reliance and adaptability, and your foreign work experience will look great on your CV. Another point to bear in mind is that it is much easier to make the break and travel abroad early in your career than it will be later on when you are likely to be tied down by family commitments.
Young people from many countries are becoming increasingly mobile in our global economy. Around 10,000 people from Britain, many of whom have recently left university, are currently emigrating to New Zealand alone every year. Meanwhile, a recent survey of new graduates from Sweden’s Linköping University found that more than 75% were prepared to consider seeking jobs abroad.
At present, many graduates are deciding to work abroad for a time because the job market is difficult in their own country. This means that seeking work elsewhere seems a good option rather than being unemployed, or having to take a job which may be of little help to their career prospects in the longer term, like bar work or stacking shelves.
It is important to be aware that job markets have been hit by the economic downturn in many different countries, and so there is no guarantee that moving abroad will mean you can immediately find well-paid work. However, many expats do say money is an incentive and that they find they have a better standard of living abroad than they would in their home country. A survey by a British bank found that more than 80% of UK nationals living in Spain said the cost of living was lower there than at home, while a similar number claimed the quality of life was higher.
When moving abroad, one skill you already have is your mother tongue. There can often be opportunities to get work in language schools – which will be a valuable experience if you later decide to go into teaching in your home country. English teachers are especially in demand, with job opportunities ranging from private language schools in Turkey to summer camps in Finland. If you have this type of work in mind, it is a good idea to do at least a short course leading to a qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) before setting off.
As well as teaching your own language, living and working abroad gives the best possible opportunity to become fluent in another tongue. You can only really become an expert in a language by speaking it constantly, and living in a different country gives a great opportunity to do just this, immersing yourself in another culture.
Work Programmes and Volunteering
If you want to enlarge your skills by working abroad, there are many programmes for students and young people, including volunteer projects. Work like this gives the opportunity to help a good cause at the same time as gaining valuable experience. The best-known schemes include those run by international development organisations like Voluntary Service Overseas and Raleigh International, but there are also many smaller specialist agencies geared to particular countries.
Taking out suitable travel insurance is vital for anybody who is going to spend time abroad, whether on holiday, studying or working, and it is important to get unbiased advice on this. Fortunately, by visiting a specialist website, you can compare the cover which is available from more than 35 insurance providers in order to find the best deal for you. It is possible to do this by filling in a single form, saving a great deal of time and trouble. Another important preparation is to check whether you need visas and work permits in order to seek employment in a foreign country. It is essential to get full information well in advance - for a better overview, you can also look at our checklist of things to consider when moving abroad.
New graduates should not be afraid to try working abroad, because, even in the difficult economic climate of the 21st century, there are many opportunities. You could well find that spending some time living in another culture is the making of your career, helping you to build contacts which will stand you in good stead later and also boost your confidence, independence and language skills. Volunteer work could also provide the chance to try working in a different field and discover whether it is something you want to pursue further. Whether you later return home or even decide that you want to live abroad permanently, your experience will prove to be invaluable.
If you're considering moving abroad it's important that you understand how to tailor your job application to country-specific conditions.
If you already know where you want to go, you might find some valuable information in one of these articles: