If you are thinking about working abroad, consider these important issues carefully...
To get the most out of your year abroad, think about the following:
Be realistic about the time it will take to find a job overseas. The process can take a long time and requires careful consideration and good organisation as well as determination.
Getting meaningful work experience for only a year may be difficult. Your year abroad may easily turn into two or three.
What will you do when you come back to the UK? Is this your intention? If you plan on using your experience abroad to help get a job once you return, think about how you will market it. Your initiative in getting a job overseas, as well as your motivation in following it through and making it a success, will impress employers. The ability to communicate and work as part of a team with people from a broad range of cultural backgrounds is also an invaluable skill.
Working abroad may ultimately not suit you. This could be the job itself, the country you're living in or being away from family and friends. It's useful to have a back-up plan should this happen.
Being a foreigner with English as a mother tongue can have its advantages, but be aware that many international firms may prefer to hire locals who speak the language. You should check how it will affect your employment chances if you're not competent in the country's language.
The type of work you are doing, your employer and the country you are in will all determine the level of language skills required. An IT job in a multinational organisation, for example, may be possible with more limited language skills.
Even if a high standard of the language is not required, you may want to demonstrate your cultural adaptability by learning it anyway. You will need to be prepared to devote time and effort to doing so. You may be able to take a course at your university, local college or in your destination country. Research your options as costs can vary widely.
If one of your aims is to improve your language skills, then consider the opportunities to practise the language if working as an au pair and living with a local family compared to teaching English and sharing a flat with other expats.
However much you may think you know about your destination country, be prepared to adjust to cultural norms and behaviour both socially and in the workplace. Expect to experience 'culture shock' for the first few weeks or months in a new country. Prepare yourself mentally by researching the aspects of the culture you might find unusual or difficult. Read as much as you can and speak to other people who have moved to that country to live and work.
Your living and working environments may be predetermined by the type of job you are doing. If not, it is something you need to consider. For example, would you prefer to be surrounded by expats, so that you feel more at home? Or would you rather be surrounded by the local community, so you get a real feel for the culture? Before you go, check that you will be happy with the living arrangements as well as the work setting.
If you are moving with family or a partner, consider how they will fit into the new environment and the implications working abroad may have for them, such as with their work or education. Even if friends and family are being left behind, your move will still have an impact on them as well.
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