People live and work overseas for a variety of reasons, but the common motivating factors for working abroad are typically these: a desire for adventure and personal growth, greater professional opportunities, and language acquisition.
For many, working abroad represents freedom, adventure, and a chance to break out of the "9-to-5" mold while seeing the rest of the world. At home, you might normally spend your free time with the same group of friends (partaking in the same activities week in and week out with those friends), whereas overseas there's an urgency to explore and take advantage of the myriad of opportunities around you. Rather than being the tour guide for out-of-towners visiting you in the States, you'll be the perennial visitor. And you'll likely be keen to see and learn as much as possible about the country where you're working and living. In addition, experiencing other cultures up close and personal can be an adventure in itself.
Access to greater professional opportunities is another common reason cited for going abroad. In some emerging economies of the developing world, there's often a crucial need for talent. And qualified personnel can be in short supply just at the moment of economic growth, that is, when they're most in demand. This isn't true everywhere, but it's recently been the case in some of the fastest growing regions of Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
Sometimes, the primary motivation to live and work overseas is the chance to learn a foreign language, or improve upon one you've already studied. Fluency in another language opens doors to many types of careers, including international business, the diplomatic corps, trade, teaching, and tourism. Often, fluency alone won't guarantee a job, but as a supplement to other skills, the knowledge of a foreign language is undeniably valuable.
No matter what your motivations may be, if you've decided that you'd like to work abroad, the next step is to investigate practical considerations before planning your strategy for getting a job overseas. And this includes considering the reasons why it might NOT make sense for you to work abroad.
To that end, to see if you're the type of person that would likely thrive in a job overseas, take this 17-question IQ (International Quotient) test below. There are no right or wrong answers; just make sure to answer these Yes or No questions honestly.
1. Are you single?
2. Will you be going overseas with a partner?
3. Have you ever traveled overseas?
4. Have you ever lived overseas?
5. Do you have an interest in other cultures?
6. Are you prepared to not see your family and friends for at least a year?
7. Have you ever experienced real stress or loneliness before in your life?
8. Are you confident of the way you deal with your emotions?
9. Are you a tolerant person?
10. Do you consider yourself flexible?
11. Do you consider yourself a risk taker?
12. Have you ever felt like an outsider?
13. Do you consider yourself to be non-traditional?
14. Do you have a non-traditional career path in mind?
15. Are you looking at graduate school a few years down the road?
16. Do you have a clean bill of health/are you generally healthy?
17. Do you have enough money to support yourself for at least three months without working?
• 15 or more YES answers: Go for it! A job overseas sounds like a great fit.
• 10-15 YES answers: Go for it, but be prepared to be challenged and occasionally frustrated.
• 5-10 YES answers: Think seriously about your plans before you go. This may not be the best path for you.
The above was adapted from the new Vault Career Guide to International Careers.
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