Common Myths about Working Abroad

by | March 10, 2009

There are many common myths about working internationally. Here we take a look at some of the most common misconceptions.

Myth #1:Working internationally is always a good career move.
Despite the opportunities that come with working abroad, they do not always translate into clear-cut advantages. Unless your company transfers you, working overseas can sometimes take you off a more traditional career path, and does not enhance every career goal. For example, if your heart is set on a career in investment banking, taking a few years off to teach English in Prague will not help your professional aims.Many international experiences, unless they are with a multinational company, are hard to translate into a traditional context. While international experience can help you in getting admitted to graduate school, it is sometimes not useful as preparation for changing careers or finding a job back home.

Myth #2:You can make a lot of money.
Don't go if you're just going for the money. While the potential for making money exists, there are no guarantees. In addition, there are a host of hidden expenses that must be considered in the cost equation.
Check out this list of additional expenses you might face working abroad, especially if your company does not take care of your relocation:

  • Visa:You might be responsible for obtaining your own work visa, which can cost up to several thousand dollars
  • Health insurance: If your employer doesn't sponsor you, taking out your own global coverage can be pricey.
  • Travel: Factor in trips you'll want to make, both back home and in the surrounding region.
  • Phone bills: Calls home can add up.
  • "Foreigners' tax": As a Westerner, you will be automatically assumed to be rich, and may be overcharged on everything from taxi rides to rent. This practice is sometimes dubbed the "foreigners' tax."
Myth #3You'll have a fabulous time.
Before you go, or before you consider going, take an inventory of yourself and your expectations. While this won't prevent you from having a miserable experience, it will help you to manage your expectations.Answer these questions:
  • What are you wanting or hoping to get out of the experience?
  • What are your expectations for this experience? Are they realistic?
  • What does success and failure mean to you?
  • Have you thought through what will happen if things don't work out?

Filed Under: Job Search


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