So you have decided to invest in a year or two abroad to gain some international experience. Aside from helping to shape you personally, the time spent working in an international market can be a huge game-changer for your professional life. There are many ways that international experience impacts your career; what has been listed below are really only a few, but should serve as motivation enough.
You are World-Wise and Adaptable
One of the benefits of international experience – and something that all employers look out for – is the ability to work well and quickly adapt to new environments. Not only does working in a foreign country require you to jump way outside of your comfort zone, but it also ensures that you learn new skills, gain fresh experiences, and in general have a more well-rounded view and understanding of your industry. It also tends to force you to think outside of the box, take initiative to learn on your own, and to become more resourceful – all golden qualities that employers favour highly.
You Gain a Competitive Edge
Depending upon your field, opportunities overseas can actually also give you experience working in a more developed market and to be able to learn more advanced processes; for example, if you are hoping to gain advanced knowledge and experience in the technological development and engineering fields, a position within the German market is likely more advanced than that of the UK. When you return home having skills and knowledge from a foreign market, you most definitely gain a competitive edge over other applicants. Therefore it is important to put a lot of thought into where you want to go and why. Of course there are many opportunities for great jobs around the world, but just remember that this is a career move and not a paid holiday, so choose based on career and not on the climate.
You Amass Global Network Connections
From the CEO’s of your company to the people working right alongside you, every industry connection that you make is valuable. Be sure to network broadly while abroad and maintain those connections when you return to your home country. A good international network can open up a world of career opportunities. Take the opportunity to establish yourself on social media if you aren’t already – like on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and whatever country specific social media platforms that are popular where you are. Use these to promote yourself and to keep in touch with the industry professionals that you connect with along the way. It is also a good idea while you’re at it to set up something like an 1&1 webmail address that is country-specific or at least professional-looking, so to further your polished appeal, which in turn help with your networking success.
You Develop Cross-Cultural Communication Skills
This is especially true for working in a country where the national language is not your mother tongue. Aside from learning a foreign language, you will also learn to better communicate in general because you are interacting with people from various backgrounds which exposes you to different working styles and cultural practices.