If you are reading on Expatriant, you are probably already interested in working abroad. We try to share information about corporate jobs abroad as well as helpful advice on how to become a digital nomad or freelancer. Each path has its advantages, but they have one thing in common, they both offer an incredible experience for any career, regardless of your industry. Working and living abroad is more challenging than most people anticipate, but it is also more rewarding than you might think. If you studied business, surely you have heard the benefits of an international career, but what exactly are those benefits? Will employers or potential clients value the international experience that you gain? Without being overly optimistic, 100% of employers or clients would likely see enormous value in relevant international experience. The keyword here is relevant. Not all international experience is equal, but how you describe the experience to a potential employer or client is just as important. Many people swear off English teaching for example, but there are certain skills to be gained from teaching English abroad. Improved communication skills, time management, attention to detail, and depending on the job, maybe project management are all relevant skills that you can develop simply teaching English abroad. If you are in a particular industry, of course, it will be even more valuable to have specific international experience in your industry. All in all, we believe that the following 5 reasons should be more than enough to convince you to take your career abroad. 

Flexibility and Adaptability

The easiest skill to learn while working or living abroad is definitely flexibility and adaptability. You will learn to be much more flexible regardless if you want to or not. When you live in another country, even if it is more developed than in your home country, there will be many things that work differently. As a foreigner in any country, you will be subject to seemingly illogical immigration laws and local bureaucracy that locals likely don’t even know exist. When interacting with local authorities everything won’t go smoothly no matter how you prepare. You will learn quickly to adapt to the different styles of communication in your host country and how to get things done in the most efficient manner. This takes time though, you will be faced with hardships that you never faced at home. It will be hard, sometimes, and depending on the country, very hard! The perseverance you gain alongside your ability to be flexible and adapt to local culture and customs will be absolutely invaluable to any work context. 

Networking

Networking is the most valuable tool for every profession out there. The more people you know, the easier it will be to find the job you want or the clients you need for your job. If you ask anyone who has networked abroad they will likely tell you it is different or even easier. This is for a number of reasons, first of which, when you are abroad, it is much easier to connect with other expats, especially those from your home country. You have a common bond with every other expat in your country, you have mutual life experiences already. This makes it incredibly easy to start talking to people when you are abroad. There may be some physiological reason for this, but that isn’t terribly important. In any big city in the world, there is a myriad of opportunities for expat networking. You can check out our country guides https://expatriant.com/countries/ for more in-depth ideas and places to look for networking groups. 

Hopefully, you understand the value of networking while you are abroad, but what happens when you potentially return to your home country? How will your international connections be of any value at home? The answer is twofold. First, once you have been abroad, you will learn how to network far better than the average person in your home country. You will learn how to converse with a wide variety of people on a range of topics. Chances are that professional connections at home will just be interested in hearing about your international experience, but this depends on your industry and profession. Quite simply, if you learn to network abroad, it will be the same at home even if you weren’t the best networker before leaving. You will become a more open person abroad, you have to be actually. Second, depending on your industry, there is a very high likelihood that you can leverage your international connections while at home. You will likely have met people abroad who have returned to your home country or work at a company based in your home country. These connections made abroad are more informal than your network in your home country, but because you have mutual experiences and likely a few stories to share, it makes them that much more powerful. 

Personal Growth

While personal growth and experience might not seem like a career benefit, it is more of a general benefit. Living abroad will push you out of your comfort zone often, if not daily. Having to learn how things are done differently in your host country will give you a more objective view of how things are done in your own country. You should try not to, but you will find yourself comparing your host country to your home country and you will see areas where both are great and both could improve. Simply living abroad will allow you to approach most problems from two distinctly different viewpoints. There is never just one solution to a problem and you will gain an incredible ability to frame issues in a different way to solve problems. When you return home, this is probably the most valuable skill you could pitch to a future employer. Diversity of ideas is a good thing and many companies struggle with how to implement this. Additionally, just having broader experiences in life will enable you to find more satisfaction in your daily life. You know that things can be done differently after living abroad. The more you travel, you will build more life enduring memories and build longer-lasting relationships with the people that matter to you and your career. Most expats also report being drastically more satisfied with their careers during and after international stints. 

Language Skills

If you are going abroad to almost any other country, it is likely that you either have a good understanding of the local language, or you are going to have to learn it once you arrive. In either instance, you are going to be spending considerable time learning another language. We could write a book about how a second language is valuable for reasons work-related and life-related, but it isn’t important. It is a fact that knowing a second language provides a wide range of benefits to anyone. When you learn another language you almost always gain a better knowledge of your own language, it’s unavoidable. Learning another language enables you to communicate better and in new ways that might surprise you. After spending a few years in almost any country, it should be relatively easy with some effort to get to a conversational level in any language. When you return home, any company that is worth working for will see significant value in your new language abilities. Many surveys have shown time and time again that those who speak multiple languages earn 5% more a year than their peers who speak only one language. Over a career, this can be a massive boost to your earnings. So if you are going abroad, make it a priority to learn the local language, it will never be easier. If you already speak multiple languages, a third, fourth, or fifth language is always easier than the second!

Cultural Awareness

If you live in the west, you know that cultural awareness is an extremely important quality to have. Many people find it incredibly difficult to see problems from another angle and spending time abroad will definitely train you otherwise. You simply have to gain a sense of cultural awareness when you are immersed in a culture that is different than your own. Even if you only spend time around one different culture, you will find that connecting and understanding most other cultures becomes much easier. Being part of another culture is probably the most fascinating aspect of living abroad, at times it is incredibly agonizing and lonely, but on the other hand, it is one of the most rewarding experiences out there – connecting with and conversing with people of another culture and language. You learn so much about the other culture, while at the same time listening to the observations about your own culture from a different perspective. This is an invaluable experience for any career or profession because it will allow you to connect with people on a level you were unable to before living abroad. 

At the end of the day, going abroad is the best life experience you can give yourself. There is nothing else like it in this world and employers are well aware of the benefits. If you are interested in going abroad to take your career to the next level but have no idea where to start, we can help. We offer international career consulting services that you can find on our services page and we will assist as little or much as you like. Don’t let the haters tell you that you are wasting time working abroad, it simply isn’t true. Follow your passion and remember, fortune favors the bold. 

I lived in Russia for 5 years. Over those 5 years, I started a few companies, worked as an English teacher, worked at a large Russian tech company, and worked at an international law firm. I want to share my experience living and working abroad so you can do the same!

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