Working abroad: Why do it?
For some people, working abroad is a logical step in their career. For others, it's a necessity in a tough job market or a desire for a better standard of living. And there are those who do it to experience a different way of life
The reasons to work abroad are numerous, and the experience can be both life enriching and career enhancing.
- Experiencing different cultures - employment overseas can provide an opportunity for total immersion in a foreign culture in a way that tourist travel can not. It also provides the possibility to forge friendships with people who may have a very different cultural background to your own.
- Enhancing employability - working in a different country can be particularly beneficial in developing certain strengths and skills. Finding and securing the job to make your experience a success will test your initiative and determination. Communication skills will be strengthened through working with people from different cultural backgrounds and overcoming language barriers. You'll also develop your flexibility when adapting to new and unfamiliar living environments and work cultures. Working abroad is an attractive feature to have on your CV to interest future employers.
- Gaining experience - working abroad may also provide experience that is relevant to your chosen career. For example, if you want to get involved in conservation work you could volunteer on an environmental project, or work in a hotel if you want to go on to a job in the hospitality industry. If you want to work in a specific career area, spending time abroad may enable you to experience different practices, attitudes and ideas in the workplace, which give you an edge. Future career development opportunities may be significantly enhanced by a period spent working abroad.
- Taking time out - for many a student or recent graduate it's the ideal time to take time out and work abroad before you have commitments such as relationships, family or property, which would make leaving the UK difficult. It can be a complete break from studying for students while picking up valuable skills and experience at the same time. For graduates, working overseas might represent a much-needed respite before embarking on a career and could provide some useful reflection time, experience and networking opportunities before making any long-term decisions.
- Limited job opportunities in the UK - during difficult economic times, better and more plentiful job opportunities may exist in other countries.
- Better living conditions or higher pay - some jobs abroad may offer high salaries and/or a better standard of living than in the UK. Some countries may also enable you to live more economically if they have lower taxes, lower accommodation costs and cheaper consumer goods.
- Altruistic reasons - particularly for those wanting to work or volunteer in a developing country. Some feel that 'giving something back' has a greater effect in a developing country rather than in a Western country such as the UK.
- Family reasons - for example, relocating for a partner's job, moving to be closer to family or emigrating for a better lifestyle for your own family.
Sourced by Suzanne Agnew, University of Edinburgh