5 Reasons to Consider Working Abroad After Graduation
Finally, the long-awaited graduation ceremony comes, bringing tears of happiness, celebration, getting drunk with your mates. Then, what? You have to move to the real world and find a job. If you were smart about it, you started to look for job opportunities at least 3–6 months before graduation. That’s how long it takes for the average college graduate to secure employment.
Gone are the days when a college degree guaranteed that you have a job. The University of Washington says that approximately 53% of college graduates are unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.
There are different ways to increase your chances of securing a job during your studies. This includes a semester of internship or a year of volunteering in your study of field. What about moving to a different city, state, or even working abroad?
I live in Europe, and here it’s relatively easy to go for an internship or a placement year abroad, and even finding a post-grad job in a different country. A good comparison might be moving from one U.S. state to another. I’m from Bulgaria, but went to study in Scotland for a bachelor’s degree, and then moved to work in Slovakia.
Here are 5 reasons why to consider moving to a new state or country when looking for a post-grad job.
1. More countries, more job opportunities
Opening yourself to more than one job market provides a higher amount of opportunities. The chances of finding your dream Software Engineer position within your small town are much lower than if you search in a tech metropolitan area. The same is valid for living in a smaller European country and applying for job positions in five or six other countries from the European Union.
A few months before graduation, I started applying for job positions in the UK, Spain, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Germany, and Slovakia, where I eventually moved. Applying to companies from all these countries let me see all kinds of different positions, salaries, and various job benefits.
With this approach, I applied online for around 50 positions before securing my first post-graduate job as a Junior Marketing assistant. Since the first application, it took me a little more than 2 months to sign a contract and get ready to fly into a new country.
Living and working abroad might not be for everyone. Still, if you’re willing to do it, you could find a lot of exciting job positions and eventually secure one quicker than usual. Also, you don’t need to live abroad forever, but you can work there for a year or two, gain experience, and come back home.
2. Broaden your horizons
The added benefit of working abroad is understanding different cultures, trying unique local cuisines, speaking a foreign language, making new friendships, and becoming a more well-rounded person.
When you’re young, you want to do a lot of things and experience the world. Living abroad gives you that. If you always wanted to start a new life, go abroad, where nobody knows you.
Did I mention travel opportunities? Having a job is good, but life doesn’t end up there. You can also pursue your other interests, hobbies, and travel to places you dreamed about visiting.
Moving to Slovakia made it possible for me to see Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, and Poland in less than a year. I had a lot of great memories and stories to tell from these travels.
3. Independence and things to consider before moving
Until graduation, you’ve likely had some help, direction, or guidance from your peers, friends, family, and professors. It could mean financial assistance in paying your bills, advice on what to study, or even choosing what to eat for dinner. There are a lot of dependencies and things to rely on as a college student.
After getting a first post-grad job and moving to a new place or country, you leave most of that help behind. You experience a much greater level of independence and freedom to do things on your own. There’re also things to consider before making the big step.
Things I looked for while choosing the country to move to after graduation:
- How easy it is to find accommodation (When I moved to Slovakia, the job position had a lower salary but provided free accommodation for the first six months)
- How good is the city life (entertainment, restaurants, night clubs, parks, theatres, swimming pools, historic places, nature, population, people’s friendliness)
- Job opportunities with English (amount of international companies and unemployment rate)
- Standard of living (can I afford living there, do I have enough savings)
- Distance from home country (how often can I go back home)
- Salary (not the highest priority for my first post-grad job, but still of importance)
Achieving career and personal independence makes you feel like a more accomplished person and can positively impact your self-esteem. Moving to an entirely new place could also come with a lot of challenges, but this is how you learn from experience and further develop your skills.
4. International professional experience
Companies nowadays like to hire employees who are adaptable, can learn quickly, and are well-versed in multicultural team environments. Working in a foreign country makes you adapt to different styles of working, overall culture, language barrier, and even unusual lunch/break times in some cases.
From a professional perspective, it’s helpful to see how other cultures approach problems or what kind of practices and methodologies they use at work. When working in a large international organization, you see cultural differences in the work ethic, motivation to complete tasks, obedience to authority and hierarchy, the importance of relationships and networking, and other interesting traits observed in employees from different nationalities.
This is a valuable experience you can transfer to your next job or professional endeavor regardless of the country or company you’re in.
5. Finding new friends or a partner
Life happens, for one reason or another, you may not have your close friends living next to you anymore, or you don’t have friends at all. You may also suffer from a bad breakup and want to move on with things, starting a new chapter of your life.
Moving far away from everything that reminds you of the past can help with that. It might not be the primary goal to make new friends or start a new relationship, but with time, you’ll be doing it anyway.
You never know what is waiting for you when you step out of your comfort zone. In my case, I had no plans to start a serious relationship in the new country I was working in, but things happened. A few years later, I’m engaged and planning marriage with someone who I met here. Two foreigners working abroad happened to meet and fit each other. Life is like that.
Moving abroad is not an easy decision to make, and it’s certainly not for everyone. It can be risky and full of challenges depending on your situation. However, if you’re willing to do it, there’s no better time than after graduation to embark on an amazing life journey filled with valuable lessons.
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