The attraction of working abroad is clear – earning foreign currency, meeting new people, travelling to wonderful destinations and working at globally recognised companies. There are a number of ways that working in a foreign country can help you kick-start your career and grow as a person.
Charlotte Quenet-Meintjes, head of Workaway International (South Africa), shares some of the benefits of working abroad, as well as a few of the most important things you should take with you to ensure your travels are successful:
Gain international work experience and improve your career opportunities
Working abroad is a great way to kick-start your career, and having international experience on your resume displays a certain level of initiative, of going out of your way to improve your skills. The knowledge and skills gained through this often makes you much more employable – both here and abroad – because countries like the US and Britain offer young professionals the chance to prove themselves in a very competitive environment.
Broaden your travel horizons and experience different countries and cultures
The experience of working with different cultures is essential to becoming flexible in today’s multi-cultural workplace. We are all different and have different needs. By exposing yourself to other cultures, you learn to adapt to other people’s needs – whether it’s your employer, your colleagues, or your customers and clients.
Build lasting relationships and expand your personal network
Working abroad allows you to build relationships – both socially and professionally – with people you’d normally never meet. These relationships and interactions often lead to unexpected opportunities, and even friendships, later in life. By expanding your personal network, you create connections that may be beneficial in the future.
Above all, preparation is the key to success. Travelling and staying abroad can be stressful, and without proper planning and preparation, you can easily turn what should be a fun adventure into a negative experience.
She maintains that these must-have items will make it easier to simply enjoy the experience of travelling and staying in another country:
You can of course do some research on local weather conditions, but Mother Nature is unpredictable and what looked like sunny mild conditions could quickly turn into a torrential downpour. Pack your favourite clothes but make sure you have at least one item that can protect you against wind, rain and snow if it’s an area prone to snowfall.
While it’s impractical to carry every possible medication with you, it’s a good idea to have at least a functioning first aid kit that can treat the most common ailments.” If you suffer from any allergies or take prescription medicine, make sure you have a good supply of these too.
As any traveller can attest, moving between cities, countries and continents involves a near-endless process of customs checks, border posts and airports. Each of these checkpoints requires an extensive list of documentation for you to gain entry. “By making sure you have the following checklist of documents, you can make the whole process of travelling a bit smoother, and avoid getting into any sticky situations by not having the required documentation.” Ensure you have your passport with international visa, flight tickets, driver’s license, travel insurance documents, photocopies of all important travel documents, and a guide book to help you find your way.
Quenet-Meintjes adds, “Travelling abroad should be a memorable experience that broadens the mind and teaches valuable life lessons. By doing proper preparation ahead of your trip, you can ensure your travels are without unnecessary stress, allowing you to focus on the simple task of enjoying the adventure and learning from your experiences.”