5 Ways Working Abroad Will Boost Your Career


You just sent in another job application.

But while you’re trying to line up some much-needed work experience to put on your CV, you secretly dream of jumping on a train with a Euro rail pass and exploring the winding streets of Paris this summer.

Ready for some red-hot truth?

You can have both.

The world is flat, haven’t you heard? So get your running shoes on and explore the internship opportunities that exist all around the globe. To be sure, it isn’t easy. Finding work abroad takes extra effort and some major motivation.

However, working abroad not only gives you the chance to live out the adventure of your dreams – you’ll also gain international experience that will differentiate your resume from the pile.

Still on the fence? Here are the top five ways international work experience could propel your career (and life):

1. Learn to work with different cultures

Your resume probably includes some generic skills or experiences. For example, you might describe your retail experience as having taught you to be a “good team member” who “excels at communicating with diverse groups.”

These are important skills, but they also sound generic.

Working abroad provides you with a learning experience that is both unique and substantial.

When you find yourself emerged in a new societal culture as well as a new corporate culture, you will double your learning. You will have the opportunity to observe the unique chain of command, dynamics of team meetings and even lunchtime rituals. Your intercultural competence will grow if you are open to the experiences, observations and stories that unfold.

Landing a job in another country will make you work outside your comfort zone – and push you to grow.

2. Enhance your employability and resume

Imagine witnessing how contracts are negotiated in India, how a product is launched in Germany or how the R&D process works in Japan.

By working abroad, you have the unique ability to learn how processes, procedures and business work in foreign markets. You will witness and learn to appreciate the differences and similarities between the Canadian and foreign markets. Working abroad can enhance your communication skills, flexibility and adaptability.

International assignments give you exposure to emerging or developed foreign markets in order to give you the leading edge in our increasingly globalized world.

3. Build global networks

Developing a solid community of contacts is an essential career-building step.

Working abroad will enable you to create new global contacts, explore new industries and learn about career avenues you may not even be aware of.

As you mingle with colleagues in the office and make friends outside of work, you will create relationships that can aid in building a truly global career. Learn people’s stories. Be genuinely curious.

You have probably heard the expression that “half the learning is outside the classroom.”

Fostering and growing networks of business contacts and friends in foreign countries opens you to new post-grad postings, global mentors and expands your career possibilities across countries.

4. Use your skills to make a difference

Taking on a global internship gives you the opportunity to contribute your unique skill set to an organization or a community that needs it.

Perhaps you have a dream of giving back to a community in need or a city in crisis.

Taking on a voluntary internship at an NGO, startup or government organization will not only enable you to give back but also equip you with valuable leadership and practical skills that will be stepping stones in your career.

5. Have an adventure and fun

You have probably heard the expression that “half the learning is outside the classroom.”

The same applies when you are working abroad. While you will soak up new knowledge and skills from your work role, your experience outside the office will help you grow as well.

Living abroad isn’t always an easy experience, but it is a rewarding one in which you will need determination, motivation and flexibility. You will embark on an adventure exploring new cities, cultures, foods, languages and people. Take the opportunity to travel, explore and enjoy your new surroundings as it’s all part of your story.

The world is getting smaller. International experience on your resume (and in your life journey) will spice up the conversation at your next interview – and that interview might be at a table in a country you’re dreaming of today.

Stay tuned for Tania’s next post, where she’ll explain how she turned a post-grad backpacking trip through Europe into an internship at the UN.

About the author

Tania DeSa , Connection Catalyst is an 8-time expat having lived, worked and studied in Australia, Japan, Hungary, Spain, China and Switzerland. From interning at WHO in Geneva to managing marketing teams across EMEA, she is obsessed with throwing herself outside her comfort zone. Her coaching superpower is helping expats, new grads & newcomers design a personal brand strategy to maximize life in a new space. Follow her on twitter @passionigniter and on Facebook or connect with her at www.taniadesa.com.