For many professionals and those at the beginning of their career, working internationally is likely to be an ultimate career goal. After all, who wouldn’t want the chance to experience different cultures and lifestyles?
Many people don’t realise that working internationally doesn’t necessarily require extensive experience, and that there are a number of opportunities for graduates who are fresh out of university. So with this in mind, why is working overseas such an attractive option?
Current opinions on the fate of the UK graduate job market are mixed: some commentators are reporting uncertainty over future vacancy levels. One thing we know for sure is that the upcoming election is only adding to the confusion and it’s increasingly hard to predict which direction the market will take. While firms have taken on greater numbers of graduates in recent years, the arena is still very saturated, competition is fierce and there are large numbers of applicants fighting for the same positions. In order to secure your dream international role you’ll still have to compete with others, but the market is likely to be considerably less crowded.
One of the main benefits of working abroad is the exposure to other cultures. Working abroad allows you to experience new ways of living and understand that people can think and operate in different ways. In addition, you’ll almost certainly be working with other professionals from around the world and this can only help to bolster your skill set. Having this perspective also provides a unique understanding of the attributes that are needed to be successful in the modern global economy, something you may not have experienced in the past. The world is becoming increasingly interconnected and having a knowledge of how professionals in other countries operate will benefit you greatly and position you at the forefront of the job market.
In a similar vein, your language skills will also improve. Unless it’s clearly stated, you’re likely to be working in your native tongue; however, living in a foreign country means it’s impossible to escape the fact that you will have to step out of your comfort zone at some point and try to speak the local language. If you’re already bilingual your skills will also improve. As mentioned, you’ll likely be working and interacting with professionals from across the globe and even if you’re yet to develop language skills, it’s never too late to start and adding a new language to your skill set. It can provide a real boost to your employability.
Outside of the working environment, moving abroad can be greatly beneficial in terms of improving your quality of life and lowering your expenses. We’ve all heard the reports on the cost of living in certain parts of the UK, and you may even have experienced a squeeze on costs yourself. Obviously the markets vary hugely from one country to another, but in many locations the cost of living is lower than in the UK. Spending less on food, rent, travel and social activities means you have more expendable income to use in your leisure time and even to travel further afield and experience other cultures.
If you work in continental Europe you have relatively easy – and cheap – access to a number of other countries and even if you’re not intending on staying forever, it’s likely you’ll build strong relationships with your colleagues from across the globe who are also experiencing what it’s like to work in a foreign country. By building these relationships you’re essentially developing an international network which could potentially lead to exciting and lucrative opportunities in the future. Remember, in many cases, it’s not necessarily what you know, but who you know.
It goes without saying that relocating abroad for work is a big step and might be intimidating formany people; nevertheless, if you want to fully experience new cultures and understand what it’s like to live and work in an environment thatwas previously out of your comfort zone, there’s no better option. Take time to consider your choices and contact companies to find out more about the programmes they offer. It can also be worth engaging with current employees to hear first-hand experiences of what the company offers.
In addition, you should remember not to limit yourself to graduate schemes as there are a variety of opportunities outside of traditional programmes that can provide you with equally valuable experience and training. There’s no definitive profile of the person suited to working overseas but you should consider the option – it could be the best decision you ever make.
Paul Myers is Internal Recruitment Manager at NonStop Recruitment, a specialist recruitment firm with offices across Europe.