Extended travel doesn’t have to be one big vacation. It’s not an all or nothing goal. Consider working with organizations that have global operations. This initial step may become your catalyst to produce future options abroad. Many international corporations offer overseas assignments, project roles to launch new location start-ups, rotational contracts and coordinated international development programs.
How to help your chances:
Professional credentials are often a requirement to be approved for foreign work permits. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and this level of professional credibility was needed to obtain an approved work visa for all my foreign postings.
If you are under thirty years old, many countries allow easier access to attain work permits e.g. Australia’s working holiday visa for 18 to 30 year olds.
Language skills and proven capabilities of adapting to uncertainty in a changing environment can help to land these desirable positions.
Focus on creating value for your employer. If you are perceived as a person who they can trust and rely upon to handle complex issues, it will help to snag those sought after overseas postings.
Avoid burning bridges. You never know what may transpire down the road, who you can help and what support others may offer.
Pros of travelling for work:
Corporate support, both financial and familiarity with your employer and colleagues is a huge benefit. Moving abroad is a big change for your entire family, especially the first move. I find the initial six months are usually the hardest. Your employer can help to reduce the stress of the move and settling in.
Financial support from your company for moving costs and settling into your new home eases the burden. Facilitating costs for foreign tax return preparation, temporary accommodation and language training can smooth your journey.
Steady income is surely appreciated. I promise that by living somewhere, you will experience a completely different perspective than what one would gain on a short term vacation, both good and bad. I find this added complexity deepens the experience.
Working abroad offers a test run for being away from your comfort zone and home support network. Overseas life is similar to long term travelling – you learn to rely on yourself. Questioning assumptions becomes the norm as protocols that you may have taken for granted in your home country are often undone in new settings. It could be as simple as figuring out the neighbourhood gas person’s phone number to restock your gas cylinder for the stove. Once you open up to it, life becomes easier!
Life overseas is not a continual exotic experience. The routine will reappear. Cleaning still needs to be done. Groceries remain a necessity.
You may feel more tied to your job as one can usually only live and work in a foreign country subject to an employer sponsored work visa.
Nancy O'Hare has lived and worked across five continents and travelled to over eighty countries. Her writing shares insights from her travels and musings about the world around us.