Important skills for international work

It is essential to have a long term plan in creating an international career. Prioritize jobs that lead to new openings instead of rating them on salary and location, which are usually the deciding factors in domestic jobs. Since jobs in the international market are highly changeable, it is advisable to be prepared to make quick decisions and changes.

Combining Domestic and International Experience - A successful career is the combination of domestic as well as international work experiences. Several international jobs will be based at home but will require dealing extensively with people overseas. As international experience is required by almost all international jobs, it is recommended that you take part in one of the overseas programs as a student or immediately after graduation.

Public, Private or Non-Profit Sectors
Government and intergovernmental organizational jobs overseas are usually bureaucratic and rigid, while private sector jobs offer greater opportunities and salaries, and non-profit sector jobs offer hands-on work but lower salaries. Job security is ensured in the public sector while private sector jobs are notoriously erratic. Non-governmental organizations give employees greater creativity and flexibility. Public sector jobs will give the broadest experience and training in other fields as well, while private sector jobs are specialized and narrow in focus.

Selecting Locations
You must be open and flexible in your choice, as this will be an invaluable learning ground on which your entire career will be dependent. It is advisable to select regions rather than specific countries when applying for jobs. Instead, decide on a geographical area such as rural vs. urban, developing vs. developed.

Balancing Career and Family

  • Interns: It is highly unlikely for organizations to hire couples and it is best to look for additional positions close by.
  • Volunteers: Most organizations ensure that the entire family is accommodated for volunteers of long-term positions. Perks like admission to private schools for children and pain vacations home are usually included.
  • Professionals: When both spouses want to work overseas, it is best for the person with greater specialization and the higher salary to find a job first.
  • Gay couples: Volunteer organizations often send gay couples to locations that are open to such cultural situations.
  • Single parents: It is usually difficult to find positions overseas that accommodate single parents in the initial stages of their careers.
  • Couples with children: It is usually advisable to wait until your youngest child is at least three if you are planning to live in a developing country.
  • Fifty-plus couples: There are a variety of options available for couples nearing retirement in the education field.

Remember to constantly update and broaden your skills, moving away from excessive specialization. Although having specialized knowledge is important initially, a generalist will have a more successful career in the long run. Apart from a specialized skill set, it is imperative to have international IQ skills, which will give you security and adaptability in a market that is often unpredictable.