Tips on Finding a Job Abroad for College Grads

Teacher leading English class
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A rising number of college students have spent time overseas as part of study or travel abroad programs, and these experiences have sparked a keen interest in working abroad after graduation.

There are many compelling reasons why grads can benefit from a stint abroad in an increasingly international marketplace. Cultural and linguistic immersion after college can ultimately make grads more attractive to international businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

Challenges of Finding Overseas Employment

Ironically, despite the movement towards internationalism in the world economy finding employment overseas is a more daunting task than ever. Immigration departments in foreign countries usually require employers to sponsor non-natives and justify why they should be hired over a native worker.

Typically, this rationale must include unique talents and abilities that non-native candidates possess which are not sufficiently present among native applicants. New college graduates can rarely meet this standard when looking to work in the developed world. It is much more common for businesses to assign veteran employees with well-developed skills that are in high demand to overseas jobs.

How to Land a Job Abroad

Despite this challenging scenario, many graduates do manage to land jobs overseas every year. Perhaps the most common option is teaching English in a non-English speaking country, particularly in Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. English has become the accepted international language of business and countries like Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Chile, Argentina, and the Czech Republic are eager to have their citizens learn English to support their trade aspirations.

Work Abroad Options

Many programs exist which can facilitate the placement of Americans into teaching positions in a variety of locations. Popular options include the Jet Program which places teaching assistants in schools throughout Japan. Grads should plan a year in advance since the deadline is in late November.

The Chilean Ministry of Education also engages teaching assistants for public schools and provides housing with a host family, health insurance, and a modest stipend to cover some living expenses. The government in Spain offers a very popular program whereby U.S. and Canadian citizens act as cultural and language assistants in the school system and receive a stipend of 700 euros per month for an eight-month assignment running from October through May.

Developed countries in Asia such as Japan and Korea offer some of the most lucrative English teaching opportunities which are advertised through websites. Grads should communicate with current teachers from their home area at target schools to gain first-hand insight about work conditions prior to signing any agreements.

Working as an au pair abroad can be a great way to minimize expenses since housing is provided by a host family, in addition to a stipend. Many agencies exist to help connect grads with families, but make sure that you inquire about options if the placement doesn't go well and check references with current au pairs from the U.S.

Organizations That Help With Finding Employment

Grads can access other types of employment through a number of organizations which help candidates to secure short-term work visas as part of cultural exchange programs. BUNAC, for example, helps recent graduates to access a work permit for periods ranging from 6 - 12 months for employment in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. BUNAC provides some support through staff in those countries to help grads find jobs but doesn't actually place them in positions.

Most participants in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland find jobs in restaurants, pubs, hotels, offices, and farms, which are not particularly career oriented. The Britain program requires grads to secure an internship with a training component.

Job Placement Programs

Another group of organizations actually places graduates in paid short-term jobs or internships. Some of these programs have a focus on specific fields like government, technology, engineering or science. Cultural Vistas, for example, offers paid internships for 3 - 12 months with German organizations.

Volunteering Overseas

Volunteer service is another viable option for many grads. The most popular and financially appealing option is the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps currently has over 8,000 volunteers in 76 countries with the majority working in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. The Peace Corps charges no fees and volunteers receive a multitude of benefits, including a relocation allowance upon completing their term of duty, loan assistance, free travel to their service site, health coverage and preference for federal employment.

Peace Corps alumni become members of a large network of alumni who can be of tremendous assistance with future careers.

Many other programs charge fees, but they often include housing, insurance, and other benefits. Many of these organizations provide fundraising literature which grads can use to solicit donations from friends, family and community organizations.