International Work Experience – a quick way to boost your CV

Any career counsellor would agree that getting work experience is one of the best ways to strengthen one’s CV. International work experience, on the other hand, is even more engaging to a potential employer. As a recent graduate, you will need to show that you have the transferable skills necessary to learn quickly and contribute to an organisation. Not only will an international internship broaden your horizons, it also demonstrates that you have ambition, flexibility and the ability to adapt to new and different environments, all crucial skills for your future career in any internationally orientated organisation.

More specifically, international experience will show that you have the ability to function in your sector in an international setting. By working overseas, you will learn how to work in a foreign business environment and manage everything that goes along with that, from gaining an international perspective to learning to deal with ambiguity – both important when entering the business world.

By the end of your placement, your skills set will look different from those of your peers who intern domestically, and you’ll be able to make your mark in interviews when discussing the ins and outs of marketing, for example, in China.

Types of work

1.      Internships and work placements

There are many different internships and placements available all over the world. They vary from a few weeks in length to 12 or 18 months in some cases.  These are an ideal way to get international experience in an office or industrial environment and can be undertaken as part of your university course or independently before or after you graduate. Organisations such as The Mountbatten Institute offer this type of international work experience. If you are still studying, opportunities for foreign work and /or study are available through:

2.      Teaching Abroad

Depending on your skills, teaching abroad can mean teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) in an international school or teaching another subject in another language (e.g. teaching science in a French school) Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is a very common way for recent graduates to experience the benefits of international work experience.  Opportunities are not necessarily in schools teaching children but can also involve teaching adults English for business, either within a college environment or in the workplace.  There are companies who offer fixed placements along with support with relocation and housing, such as i-to-i and TEFL England.  Although all degree disciplines are usually acceptable, a TEFL qualification is usually required as some countries won’t grant a visa without one.  Courses are widely available but vary in intensity and what they qualify you to do so make sure you know what is required for the type of position you want to do before signing up to a course.

3.      Volunteering and charitable work

Volunteering is a great thing to have on your CV and while you may not think that working without being paid is a feasible option, the personal and professional benefits of a short term project may be compensation enough. There are literally hundreds of projects to choose from, all over the world ranging from building schools to preserving endangered species. Projects last anywhere from couple of weeks to several months, or even a year in a few cases.  Although the nature of volunteering is that it is unpaid, often accommodation is included although you can expect to share a room.  You may be required to fund yourself for everything else through sponsorship or pre-trip fundraising. There is often an opportunity to travel at the end of a project so you can see a bit more of the country you have been working in too. See the opportunities available on the gap year, volunteering and charities pages for more information from companies such as Oyster Worldwide and Travellers Worldwide.

Any work of overseas work expereince will be of value on your CV and provide useful and interesting answers to interview questions, as well as helping you to develop skills and experience that you cannot find at home.

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