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How Has Studying Or Working Abroad Changed Your Career?

Posted on the 23 August 2011 by Ncrimaldi @MsCareerGirl

Over the weekend I celebrated my friend’s bachelorette party with a fantastic group of girls.  We had great dinners, drank way too many girly cocktails and danced so much that my legs are still sore two days later!

I met my friend Courtney through this group of girls about 3 years ago.  Courtney has since received a few promotions at work, which brought her from Chicago overseas to London for work.   Today Courtney is back in the US working in New York City with the same company.

I’m hearing stories like this all the time lately: a girl in my book club spent 7 years teaching English in Japan. One of my readers recently left on a whim to help start a company in South America.  My fiance’s former employer regularly sends its consultants overseas for projects all over the world.  Spending part of your twenties working in other countries seems like it would be an amazing and life-changing experience that would be really hard to compete with.

Studies about Gen Y often say that our generation values experiences over money. A Time Magazine article mentions Gen Y’s “search for meaning” in their work.  There’s no doubt many of us want to know that what we are doing at work is making an impact in some way. Perhaps that is why so many twentysomethings are seeking overseas jobs.  In a country whose culture often revolves around entertainment and “keeping up with the Joneses,” it can be difficult to feel like you’re making an impact or getting a new perspective while in the US.

The one big thing I wish I did in college was study abroad.  At the time I wasn’t ready for it and the thought of leaving the country and my family/friends for an extended period of time seemed terrifying.  Now that I’m a few years older, I see that studying or working travel jobs is a career development experience that you can’t get through college, domestic work experience or even advanced degrees.

  • Have you studied or worked abroad?  Would you recommend it?
  • How did working overseas change your perspective on business, life and your career?

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