Career Clusters

“How can i work abroad? is it right for me?”

Thinking about living and working in a foreign country, or starting an international career? There are many options to choose from, but quite a few restrictions, too. You’ll need to think carefully about the options and recognize that the path you had imagined may be more roundabout than what you originally hoped for.

Before you dive into the process of looking for work abroad, ask yourself what you want to gain from your experience:

  • To explore a new country and culture?
  • To prepare for or launch an international career?
  • To volunteer for a full-time service opportunity?
  • To improve your language skills?
  • To have a life-changing experience?

If your main goal is to improve your language skills, for example, you might want to focus on finding work at an organization serving and working directly with a local community. Also note that you should probably try to learn as much of the language as possible before your departure. 

On the other hand, if your goal is to launch an international career, perhaps a well-established internship is better suited to your interests. Many Americans also start their international careers with a job or internship at an international organization in the U.S. 

Options for working abroad

Professional, career-oriented jobs

  • These are difficult to obtain without having previously established a professional career in the U.S. 
  • That being said, many international organizations look for people who have lived abroad and already understand the challenges that come with that. Therefore – internships, short-term paid work, volunteering, and teaching abroad can serve as building blocks to an international career.

Short-term work abroad

  • In a select few countries where work permits are easily obtainable through U.S.-based agencies, short-term jobs are relatively easy to find – Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Depending on the country, work permits are available for three to six. Visit BUNAC.
  • A number of U.S. and international exchange organizations offer work experiences abroad, though you must usually pay a fee up front for training, placement and/or health insurance.
  • Visit Paid Short-Term Work (U. of Michigan); Transitions Abroad.

Internships abroad

  • A number of organizations and U.S. universities – including Boston College – offer internship experiences abroad, often as part of a study abroad program. You often pay a fairly significant fee up front to participate in these programs, but housing, visa help, and other assistance is generally included. Be sure to know exactly what you are receiving for the program fee and compare your options. Visit BC Office of Global Education – Intern, Research, Service; Internships Abroad (a clearinghouse of placement organizations that charge a fee); Internships and Research Abroad (U. of Michigan).
  • Some stand-alone international internships are available to American students, mostly in the areas of government and international relations. Most of these internships are unpaid. Visit GlobalEDGE International Internship Directory.

Volunteering abroad

  • Most volunteer positions lasting more than a few months will provide you with housing, meals and a stipend to cover your expenses.
  • Volunteering can be an excellent way to gain experience abroad. Opportunities are plentiful, and some volunteer opportunities will provide greater challenges and opportunities for professional growth than your average entry-level job in the U.S.
  • Though most long-term volunteer opportunities abroad (over six months) are in developing nations, there are plenty of shorter-term opportunities all over the world, though you may have to pay a fee to participate in the shorter programs.
  • Visit BC Volunteer and Service Learning Center – Post Graduate Service; Catholic Volunteer Network; International Volunteer/Service (U. of Michigan)

Teaching English abroad

And finally, make an appointment with a BC career coach to discuss your job search. We are here to help you!

Peter Hunt
Peter Hunt, Assistant Director of Career Education
Education, Non-Profit, & Social Services

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