I recently put this together for my Center for International Education! It’s purpose is to help graduate students and/or study abroad alumni to get abroad again, but can be applicable to anyone who’s considering moving, working, or volunteering overseas! Take a look:
Get The Facts
A student’s international career does not have to end upon graduation from college. The post-graduate world and workplace are full of opportunities to go abroad and with the right resources, students can find themselves overseas in no time. A résumé built on international experience is one that will most certainly make the top of the stack, likening the chances of landing that job they have been dreaming of.
Opportunities to Go Abroad
There are numerous opportunities to get started, but first and foremost, students must decide what they would like to do while abroad. Working, volunteering, and teaching are some of the most common methods of traveling post-graduation, but are not the only options. It is possible to find a program that allows students to earn their graduate degree while traveling. However, before choosing their route, there are a few things students must consider.
Moving to an entirely new country is a huge feat. It is critical to have a plan, but it’s equally as important to recognize that those plans are subject, and likely, to change. However, when planning, it is important that the student sets goals, both short term and long term. They should know what they expect to get from this experience. Is the student searching for a career? A fun time? All of the above? It is up to the student; there is no right answer and each will choose what they deem best fit.
Do The Research
Prior to departure, the student is expected to have done their research. By the time the student plans to venture off, they should have an idea of the expected living costs, transportation costs, contract obligations (if any), insurance coverage, etc. Aside from figuring out what life is going to be like in their new home, the student must be sure to settle their domestic expenses. This would be the time to call the bank and settle loans, research how taxes are paid while abroad, pay bills, etc
Furthermore, it is important that the student begins to grow their network. Students should be reaching out to companies, alumni of said companies, and learning the ins-and-outs of their trade. Using their knowledge, the student will be properly fit to plan their trip accordingly. There is no better way to learn than through first hand experience.
When it comes to volunteering abroad, there is no lack of options. Organizations like the Peace Corps and WWOOF thrive off of students who are looking to continue their lives on the road. Each one offers something different, so per usual, research is necessary to understand what is expected of the student.
The Peace Corp is a volunteer based program that tasks its volunteers “to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world.” With locations in 140 countries, the Peace Corps is one of the most popular and well-known volunteer program in the world. A standard volunteer term is a two year commitment served in one location. To this date, roughly 220,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps, a number that is ever growing.
Of particular interest, the Peace Corps offers a program called the Masters International. This program allows applicants to earn credits towards a graduate degree, gaining the experience and fieldwork that are required. Upon completion, the student will return to their home university to finish the remainder of their classes.
The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a unique volunteering opportunity that pair’s organic farmers with individuals interested in learning about organic processes as well as traveling on a budget. In return for manual labor, these organic farmers will typically house and feed their workers. Duration of a program is negotiated between the farmer and the volunteer, but typically lasts a week or two.
Working internationally often times has many hoops and processes one must go through. Getting the right documents and forms is often a long and tedious process, but it is one that is mandatory. Before embarking on their expedition, there are a few things the student needs to keep in mind.
It is not uncommon for foreign countries to have strict requirements on who can work in their country and for how long. It is important to know what the visa restrictions are for US Citizens, and to know what the requirements are to get a working visa. Typically, this is something the employer should aid in.
If the student has no set plans, it is worthwhile to explore the idea of a working holiday visa. This visa is offered to applicants between the ages of 18-30 who are interested in working abroad. The visa is valid for up to one year in any of the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore, and South Korea. Typical employment opportunities include waiting tables, becoming a bar tender, working as a desk receptionist at a hostel, the likes.
However, students are often anxious to begin their careers and are not willing to take a year before starting. If this is the case, the student should investigate job opportunities with companies that are reputable for sending employees abroad. These companies have a history of either owning numerous overseas branches or sending their employees traveling frequently.
Teaching abroad, specifically teaching English, is the largest growing form of going abroad again. To teach English abroad, the student does not necessarily need a BA in English or Teaching, but some schools or companies may require a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification.
Most commonly, teaching contracts last one academic year and often times have a second year option. This is upon completion of a satisfactory first year. When negotiating contracts, it is important for the student to bear in mind what is included. A few questions they should be asking are: What’s the salary? Is housing included? Will they reimburse the plane ticket? Is the teacher responsible for the curriculum and teaching material? What kind of visa will the teacher need?
Financing the Trip
When looking to go abroad, there are four main categories of outside funding: Fellowships, Grants, Scholarships, and Loans. Fellowships are given to those who plan on either conducting research or pursuing academic interests while abroad. A fellowship can be offered to professionals or students. Grants are offered only to United States citizens. These typically are attached with a few terms and conditions, one of the more common ones being GPA maintenance. Scholarships are offered to both U.S. citizens and international students. These usually have terms and conditions as well. Lastly, loans can be taken out as a last resort. This is the only form of outside funding that must be paid back.