So you’ve studied abroad – but now what? If you’re anything like me, you’re ready to get back out into the world and explore all its wonders. Luckily, as our world continues to become more and more global, and once seemingly far-off places are now more accessible than ever, so are jobs related to all things international. Whether it’s working abroad or helping inspire others to study abroad, you can make a career out of your passion for travel.
Studying abroad is an eye-opening experience full of exciting challenges and thrilling triumphs, and it also teaches you a unique skill set ideal for a global workplace. From communicating in a foreign country to understanding cultural customs, the benefits are numerous. Here, we’ll delve into five careers inspired by studying abroad and fueled by a passion to travel more.
1. Teaching English Abroad
Teaching abroad is an increasingly popular career path right now. Even if you didn’t study education, the fact that you can speak English in an American accent makes you an extremely desirable candidate to teach English abroad in a foreign country.
Recent college graduates often choose to teach abroad as a gap year experience that allows them to travel while others find it a rewarding job both personally and financially. Although teaching abroad coincides nicely as a gap year between college and “the real world,” you can teach abroad at any time, even if it’s been a few years, or a few decades, since you graduated.
Many countries (such as those in Europe) require a TEFL certification in order to teach but others, like South Korea, do not. It’s important to note, however, that being certified is becoming increasingly important in the hiring process in most countries.
You can find teaching jobs abroad through online job postings, job placement agencies, TEFL certification programs that offer job assistance, or government agencies, such as the Ministry of Education in various countries or the U.S. Department of State.
Basically, it comes down to this: if you know English and love travel, learning about new cultures, and helping others, you are already a great candidate to teach abroad!
2. International Education
A career in international education goes beyond teaching to include advising, counseling, and advocacy. If you’ve ever thought advising and inspiring others to study abroad would be fun, you may want to consider a career in international education.
I’m sure you remember your study abroad program directors, advisers, counselors, and your foreign language instructors. Well, that could be you! Study abroad programs, whether through a university or third-party program provider (examples include API Study Abroad and Panrimo), need program coordinators and advisers, overseas resident directors, marketing directors, academic directors, and people to do budgeting.
At a university, you could work in an international student office, an education abroad office, or a foreign language department in a number of roles. As a non-university program provider you would be able to coordinate and oversee study, volunteer, and intern or work abroad programs around the world. While some roles are U.S.-based, others would allow you the opportunity to live and work abroad. If you’re serious about pursuing a career in international education, explore graduate programs in international education, intercultural relations, or higher education administration and student affairs, since generally, a master’s degree is preferred.
The best place to network for a job in IE is through NAFSA. They host regional and national conferences, as well as workshops and resources for members. At their annual conference, over 10,000 IE professionals gather to learn about industry trends and network. It's a great place to meet representatives of universities and study abroad providers. Go Overseas even offers a special conference discount for first-time attendees.
3. International NGO’s
If you have an interest in non-profit work, an international NGO (non-governmental organization) could be a great option for you. The UN was the first-established NGO and others include UNICEF and Habitat for Humanity. These organizations typically involve human rights, environmental, or development work and aim to benefit the greater good of society.
The job functions at NGO’s vary and include: communications, social media, auditing, foreign policy, and legal reform. While some NGO’s have headquarters in the U.S., most are global organizations, so there are plenty of opportunities to work abroad. DevNetJobs provides job postings for international development and consulting opportunities. Also, check out the Bureau of International Organizational Affairs’ webpage, which includes job listings for international NGO’s.
4. Government Jobs
The U.S. has embassies and foreign offices worldwide, and someone has to fill those jobs, right? From business and accounting to law and healthcare, the U.S. government employs all types of skill sets in their offices abroad. There are also jobs in education, administration, development, and technology. You can explore a variety of international careers with the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Congress, or Foreign Service to find one that may relate to your skills and interests.
If you’re a qualified teacher, you can also teach overseas on a military base through the U.S. Department of Defense or through another country’s Ministry of Education, which is a government sector that employs teachers in schools and universities.
Keep in mind that some government jobs abroad require fluency in the language of the country where you’d be working. It’s always good to triple-check your research on the requirements of any job you’re applying for, especially those abroad!
5. Au Pairing, WWOOFing, and the like
Maybe you’re not ready for a “career.” Maybe you just want new experiences, travel, and the excitement that comes along with both. Even if you don’t embark on an official career path just yet, doing things abroad like being an au pair, WWOOFing, or working as a tour guide all provide you with valuable skills that you can leverage in the workplace later on when (and if) you decide to settle into a career.
While you may make some money in these short-term jobs, you’ll need to make sure to save up enough funds to help support yourself since these jobs can often be seasonal and temporary.
Don’t forget, if you’re not ready to commit to one career or don’t quite have enough experience yet, consider interning and volunteering abroad. It’s a great way to get a taste for a company, a certain job, and a country – all without the commitment of being hired full-time.
The most important thing to remember when considering molding your love for travel into a career, is that travel doesn’t have to be something you put on a pedestal to be obtained only when you’ve retired. There are ways to incorporate the awe you felt while studying abroad into your career, and a great starting point for your post-study abroad career exploration can begin now!