Important skills for international work

You have to build an ideal international profile to have a successful career overseas from your time as a university student. Diversity and flexibility are two of the most important characteristics of a having a successful international career. Cross industry training will lead to more opportunities and greater transferability. An international career will require the right mix of soft skills like socio-cultural interpersonal skills and hard skills like specialized technical knowledge.

  • An MA degree is required for most overseas positions in social sciences, pure sciences and business.
  • A BA degree in an outside field is a good way to broaden your skills, especially in languages and writing.
  • Additional academic experiences such as attending and organizing conferences, participating in research projects, being a teaching assistant, writing book reviews, applying for scholarships and awards are important aids in receiving a well-rounded education.

Hard Skills
Networking and Inter-Cultural Experiences

  • Build networks with experts in your selected field.
  • Act as guides to foreign students, teachers and refugees.
  • Learn about another culture by joining intra-cultural clubs and foreign students.
  • Sign up as an internet pen pal with someone in a foreign country.

Overseas Experience
Work experience in an international location for 2-6 months as an intern, volunteer or co-op student will help immensely. International travel and studying overseas for a semester or a full academic year is also essential.

Soft Skills

  • Organizational and leadership skills are extremely important in an international job profile.
  • Cross-cultural communication skills and being comfortable in international environments is essential.
  • Adaptive skills demonstrate your ability to cope away from home.
  • Entrepreneurial skills reveal your ability to work without supervision.

  • Knowing a second or third language is becoming a requirement of finding a good international position.
  • Economic and geographic skills that can help you in understanding the general make-up of the country and region are essential. Reading newsmagazines such as The Economist is a good way to increase your knowledge.
  • Superior writing skills are one of the first requirements of any international placement. Supplement your resume by writing articles and research projects.
  • Even offices in developing countries rely on computers, it is essential to be knowledgeable in this area.
  • Business and management know-how on project management, accounting, training, report writing, systems analysis and practical knowledge outside of the classroom is essential.

Job Hunting Skills
Individuals who have found jobs overseas are those who have made an extra effort to get their first job. Besides being highly motivated, committed and open to taking changes in their lives in their stride, these individuals have to have taken risks and made difficult decisions to reach their goals.

It is important to view an international job as a long time commitment and make the required investments to build an international career. This creative process becomes a lifestyle over time and part of you will become, so it is essential to enjoy it.