Why Grads Should Consider International Work Experience

By Anne Murphy

Did you know people with language skills and/or international experience earn, on average, five to ten percent more than their peers?

Whether you’re thinking about taking a gap year, looking for the first step on the career ladder or wanting an interesting challenge, a interning or volunteering abroad is a great way to get ahead.

By moving out of your comfort zone, you can expand skills and personal attributes that are high on the priority list for employers: commitment, adaptability, confidence, independence, networking ability and emotional intelligence.

Image: hjl

Craig is a 22 year old graduate. After graduating in 2010, he spent five months trying to kick start his career in the UK.  “Living at home again and claiming the dole was frustrating. I decided to look at internships abroad.

“I trawled websites of international companies and sent dozens of applications. After two months, I struck lucky with an airline that hosted a large internship programme in the US.  I relocated to Boston, and I’m now six months into what what has been a brilliant experience. Every day is different, I’m constantly learning new things and developing contacts from all over the world. My internship lasts until the end of the year and I may even seek a transfer to a new site in Europe.”

A single overseas internship has kicked-off Craig’s career. By ensuring he makes the most of his opportunity, and by building great contacts, Craig’s future is looking healthy.

There are several ways to access international opportunities:

  1. Internships – Generally, grads apply directly with organisations. There are also internship agencies, as well as university and other academic routes. Check with your careers advisor.
  2. Secondment – If you already work within a global company talk to your HR department about your interest in secondment, transfer, or introductions abroad. Perhaps look at a sister organisation.
  3. Jobsearch – If you already have some experience or have language skills there are specialist local recruitment agencies, such as Delegate Recruitment, who work with international clients. If you speak more than one language, you’ll have more options. If that’s the case, you can also check out specialist job sites like Careerlingual  and TopLanguageJobs.

Preparing applications

Regardless of your path, you will need a strong CV. A multimedia platform like Innovate CV, where you can even import your LinkedIn profile, is the way forward.  Innovate CV allows you to embed compliance, certifications and work samples, and uploaded videos add personality to your CV, which is important over distance. As an international multilingual recruiter I see around a 30% increase in interviews for candidates using Innovate CV to its full potential.

While you’re gone!

To make the most of your international posting, make sure to:

  • record video testimonials or written references from managers
  • photograph and chart achievements
  • travel and explore – immerse yourself in the culture!
  • develop/polish language skills
  • document your training

If you are smart, you will not only have the time of your life, but you will come home with a superior CV and perspective. Don’t be surprised if upon return you’re spoilt for choice of jobs in your local market.

Have you ever worked abroad? I’d love to hear about your experiences – please leave a comment below.

Award winning recruiter, Anne Murphy, is director of Delegate Recruitment. As Northen Ireland’s only international an bilingual recruitment agency, Delegate Recruiment can help you with your interntional job search.

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Categories: Articles for Job Seekers, General Career Advice, Students

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