Stepping out of the United States to take a job overseas can be hugely beneficial for a career, but only if smart, thoughtful steps are taken.
Evaluate Your Industry
The career you work in may mean that working abroad will be successful or not. For example, healthcare is a fairly transitive industry with jobs available in just about every country. But something like working in oil or gas might not offer as much travel freedom, as there aren’t that many oil-producing countries.
Examine Your Personality
Are you naturally averse to risks and adventure, or do you purposefully seek out things to do with a giant “danger” sign stamped on them? You don’t necessarily have to be all about risking life and limb every time you wake up in the morning, but adapting to a new country and culture is much easier with an inherent taste for challenge.
Willingness to Learn
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with preferring to speak only English, as it’s the primary language for almost everything in the United States. However, quite a few countries don’t share this view, which means you have to put all ego aside and learn to communicate to coworkers in their language of choice. Getting used to new food is something else, as everyone has to eat but not everyone eats the way you’re used to—for example, in China, making slurping noises indicates gratitude for a good meal.
Factor in Expenses
If you’re lucky, your company will pay for moving expenses, visas and possibly even give you a stipend to set up in the new country—but that’s the least of your worries. You have to think not only about how expensive (or cheap) it will be to live in another country (for example, the British pound, or the euro), but also of bringing gear back with you.
The farther away you move from your hometown, the less likely you are to know people. Starting over can be difficult at any age, but it’s compounded when trying to essentially start a new job and adjust to a whole new culture.
Budget for Traveling
Working in a new country also can mean the chance to travel to a whole bunch new countries, especially if you’re transferred to Europe. But traveling adds up quickly, despite the proliferation of cheap airlines like RyanAir. And not only is there airfare to worry about, but you have to budget for hotels and sightseeing expeditions—and possibly souvenirs.
Traveling to another country to work on your career can be an exciting venture, but there are many things to think about before making the big move. And often times, it’s not the logistics of the move, but figuring out how your personality fits in with a new culture.