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Working/Studying Abroad

Laying the Groundwork | International Job Search Strategies | Teaching Abroad | Additional Resources

Laying the Groundwork

You are about to embark on an exciting and rewarding experience abroad! No doubt your mind is full of impending opportunities - food, language, new friends, culture, lifestyle, and TRAVEL. Consider adding one more perk to your experience abroad: Professional Development. Why?

  • Many students return home with a new found passion for working overseas.
  • In today's competitive, global market, international competency is a hot commodity.
  • Adding career-enhancing experiences to your time abroad will give you an extreme advantage when it comes to the international job search.

Below are some suggestions for making career development intentional while studying abroad:

Take Stock Before You Leave

  • Develop an idea of what kinds of professional activities you're interested in pursuing (research, child development, marketing, event planning).
  • Speak with current students who studied at your chosen university. Did they participate in an internship or find work while abroad? If so, how did they do it?

Tip: Utilize the Study Abroad Office to get previous participant contact info.

  • Make a list of alumni living in the city or country where you will be studying. Contact them before you leave to express interest in learning about their experiences.
  • Take time to scope out developmental opportunities at your university and in your home community. Who are your professors? What volunteer opportunities are there?
  • Do some research on professional etiquette in your host country. Standards might be much different than what you are used to here in the US.
  • Update your resume. Doing this ahead of time with a counselor will make it easier for you to move forward quickly once you arrive.

Take Advantage of Opportunities in Academics

  • Work collaboratively with other students. Take courses that require you to work on teams with students from other cultures. This is a cross-cultural work experience!
  • Get to know your professors. Offer your services to assist with research work or classroom aid. Getting hired as an international student might be difficult, so work for free! If a professor doesn't work out, seek a graduate student.

Tip: Set this relationship up as soon as possible as your time at the university is limited.

  • Offer your English skills. If studying in a country where English isn't the primary language, volunteer to tutor other students.
  • Utilize career services. Just like in the US, many foreign universities offer career services to students. Take advantage of professional road trips and workshops. Learn about getting a job in that country right from the source!
  • Extend your stay to include an internship. Even a short-term professional opportunity will make all the difference in networking and gaining cross-cultural experience.

Gain Experience Outside the Classroom

  • Seek out local students. If you stay in a bubble of students from your home country, you miss out on the culture! In turn, you'll miss out on countless learning experiences.
  • Join local student organizations. This is a great way to make friends outside of other US students. Take charge of organizing events or fundraisers.
  • Volunteer in your community. Get to know local families and give back by volunteering at community organizations. Immerse yourself in local culture.
  • Contact alumni in your area. Meet them at a social venue or at their place of business. Let them know you're interested in returning.
  • Build a network of professionals in your field of interest. Set up informational interviews with local professionals. This will expand your professional opportunities if you're hoping to return.
  • Keep a contacts list of all the connections you make while abroad. Stay in contact with these people even after you return home.

Lay the groundwork for a career overseas while you're already there! The result will be a much more prepared and connected international job search down the line.

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International Job Search Strategies

When searching for work outside the US, you can use a lot of the same job search strategies you would use to find traditional placements. At the same time, there are some unique things to consider while doing a search for positions abroad.

Step 1: Define What You Mean by "International"

There are a number of different types of international jobs. Before beginning your job search, you must narrow down your idea of what it means to you to work in an international placement.

Types of International Jobs

International Placements:

  • American companies with locations in other countries
  • Government work with international placements

International Positions Based in the United States:

  • International companies (which may or may not involve working overseas) - Examples: Guinness (Ireland), Vestas (Denmark), Nestle (Switzerland)
  • Work for an American organization in a position that requires overseas travel
  • Maintaining work relationships with other countries without necessarily traveling
  • Working with individuals from other countries - Examples: immigration, social services, international education

Jobs Involving Constant Travel:

  • Careers in the transportation, travel, or tourism fields

Note: Many of the above are not entry level positions. More often than not, international companies require 2-4 years of experience before sending an employee abroad.

Step 2: Narrow Your Vision

Getting clear on your expectations and hopes regarding your experience will help you narrow down your search. Before beginning, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my purpose for wanting to go abroad? To travel, experience new things, build a career, learn a specific skill or business?
  • What do I rate as most important? Job, location, pay?
  • What do I already know about the country I'd like to work in? What do I need to know?
  • What opportunities are there for employment in that country?
  • Do I have any connections there, or is there someone who has worked there that I can talk to?
  • How important is it that I know the language?
  • How difficult will it be for me to obtain a work permit?
  • Am I looking for short-term work or long-term work?

Note: Generally, it is easier to find short-term work abroad than it is to find long-term work. Many students will begin with a short-term placement and work towards finding something more permanent once abroad.

Step 3: Speak with People "In The Know"

What better way to learn about international job opportunities than to speak with people who have or still are working in your field abroad? Networking is a key tool in successfully finding work overseas. Locating people who have international jobs which interest you and interviewing them about their careers can provide invaluable information and assistance to your own job search. You can learn from their experiences and use them to find more resources for finding a job.

How do I Find People?

  • Talk to everyone about your plans! The more people you share your international goals with, the better chance you'll have of finding someone who has information to share.
  • Contact CSU's International Programs Office to obtain the contact info of current students and alumni who are currently or have worked abroad.
  • Speak with professors and other faculty members in your department. Chances are you're not the first student who's tacked an international search.
  • Get logged on to online discussion/networking/blogging sites for people working overseas.

Step 4: Researching International Jobs

The key to any good job search is RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Find out as much as you can about:

Different Kinds of Work Experiences Available

  • What kinds of programs are there to assist you? What do they cost, how are they rated? What kinds of assistance will they lend you with obtaining a work visa, living arrangements, etc?
  • What are the benefits of doing short-term vs. long-term work?

The Geographic Location You're Interested In

  • Learn requirements for working in your country of choice.
  • Learn about the employment opportunities specific to your region.
  • Explore the different cities available to you. Find out more about the culture and what to expect!

Potential Employers/Industries

  • Compile a list of companies to look into.
  • Find job descriptions and entry level positions to find where you fit.

Research Resources

Much of your research for jobs overseas is going to take place on the web:

  • Study/work abroad websites
  • Specific company names by category and region
  • Career services websites of universities in your area of interest

Read foreign newspapers and periodicals. You can even subscribe to a newspaper which will keep you informed of the economic, social and political conditions in your country of choice and provide clues to job opportunities. Read the classified ads as well as the news and business sections about your country of choice. Below is a list of some online versions of these papers:



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Teaching Abroad

"Why do I want to teach internationally?" This question is the first and most important step in the process of looking into international teaching. If you are looking to work as a professional educator, contributing to a school and the students while experiencing a new and exciting culture, then you likely have made the right choice.

There are two types of international teaching that graduates typically pursue: teaching English as a foreign language OR teaching in international or US-sponsored schools. While the first is pretty self-descriptive, the second takes a bit more explanation. There are a number of schools internationally that offer a similar curriculum to US schools and each subject matter is taught in English. Usually, you need to be a licensed teacher in the US with a bit of experience for these positions.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

While there are opportunities to find a job teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) without training, there are more options if you pursue either a TEFL certificate or a degree (Bachelor's or Master's) with an English as a Second Language (ESL) focus. Training also prepares you to be a more effective teacher.

While there are opportunities for EFL teachers worldwide, there is a higher need for EFL teachers in Eastern Europe and East Asia (Korea, Japan, China, etc).

Online Resources

  • http://www.ciee.org - Council of International Educational Exchange provides quality programs and services for individuals, employers, communities and educational institutions.
  • http://www.teachabroad.com - A directory that provides a diverse selection of teaching positions around the world. It is a valuable resource that contains hundreds of teaching programs, services, advice and content.
  • http://www.linguistic-funland.com/job.postings.html - This site has teaching job announcements, ESL/EFL jobs overseas, and other resources.
  • http://www.overseasdigest.com/ - Tips and information about everything you might need to know when living abroad, including specific sections for each country.
  • http://www.eslcafe.com/ - Extensive web site that includes information about getting certified to teach English as a second language and resources for bilingual educators.
  • http://www.esljobs.com - Lists overseas teaching jobs and information on TEFL certification.
  • http://www.tesol.org - Provides links to Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification courses, articles, books and other resources related to teaching English to non-native speakers.
  • http://www.tefl.com/ - Includes training, jobs and other advice for those interested in Teaching English as a Foreign Language overseas.
  • http://iesglobal.com/ - IES Global's Teach & Travel China offers participants the opportunity of teaching Chinese students in the world of China, while exploring the country.
  • http://www.sias.edu.cn/en/ - Sias International University is an American-owned university in central China. Sias employs bachelor-level individuals to teach a variety of subjects, including English.
  • http://www.jetprogramme.org/ - JET Programme offers the opportunity to teach English in Japan to native English speakers from a variety of countries.
  • http://www.epik.go.kr/ - The English Program in Korea (aka the EPIK Program, EPIK, or EPIK Korea) is a Korean Ministry of Education sponsored program that places native speakers of English in public schools throughout Korea to (theoretically) teach English alongside Korean English teachers.

Teaching in International/US Sponsored Schools

For licensed teachers, International and US Sponsored Schools are another option to teach internationally.

However, teachers who go into international teaching because they are frustrated with the American educational system will likely find the same frustrations abroad. Teachers who believe that it will somehow be easier teaching internationally and that they will have unlimited travelling opportunities will likely be disappointed. Teachers who look for the "little America" where they go to teach internationally will likely be disappointed.

If you are ready to live in a new country, experience a new culture and language and you are willing to adapt to your new school and country; then you are ready to look into international teaching.

Types of Schools in the International Schools Market

International Schools: The majority of students and faculty are international. Either one or multiple international curriculum and/or tracks may be offered based upon the student composition (e.g. PYP, MYP, IBDP or IPC).

National Schools: The majority of students and faculty are nationals of the host country. These schools typically offer the national curriculum; they may also have an international curriculum as well (IB programs) or their own English curriculum to supplement the national curriculum.

Christian Schools: Schools founded by Christian missionaries seeking to introduce the Christian faith and values to the host nation. The curriculum will vary according to the school's needs.

Single Community Expatriate Schools: Schools where one expatriate community is dominant, thus the character and makeup of the school reflect the dominant expatriate community. Curriculum will serve the needs of the student body.

American Government Sponsored Schools:

State Department Sponsored Schools: Schools funded/recognized by the US State Department to meet the needs of the locally-based American diplomatic personnel and local American expatriate children.

  • http://www.state.gov/m/a/os
  • These schools tend to mirror US schools in character, curriculum, and services.
  • Little to no interaction with host nation (mainly due to security concerns rather than "overt" policy).

Department of Defense Schools: Schools for the dependents of US military personnel stationed overseas. Officially known as Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA):

  • http://www.odedodea.edu
  • Worldwide school system in 12 countries.
  • Pre-school through 12th grade for the children of employees of US Military and related agencies and other U.S. Civilian Agencies.
  • Accredited by North-Central Association (NCA).
  • Little to no interaction with host nation (mainly due to security concerns rather than "overt" policy).

Teacher Recruitment Agencies

International Schools Services (ISS) http://www.iss.edu - Private organization providing a variety of support and staffing services for the international schools market.

  • Many international schools use ISS for staffing purposes.
  • They hold fairs in US and Canada.
  • Teachers may open a resume file for a fee and attend fairs for a fee.

Council of International Schools (CIS) http://www.cois.org - Private organization providing a variety of staffing and support services for the international schools market.

  • CIS accredits schools as well.
  • Many international schools use CIS for staffing purposes.
  • Holds recruiting fairs in US and Canada.
  • Also offers professional development opportunities.
  • Teachers may open a resume file for a fee and attend fairs for a fee.

Search Associates http://search-associates.com - Private placement agency for the international schools market.

  • Very personalized search agency that individuals and schools subscribe to for a fee.
  • They find a school or person to match the needs of the client.
  • Many international schools use SA for staffing purposes.
  • Holds recruiting fairs in US and Canada.
  • Teachers may open a resume file for a fee and attend fairs for a fee.

University of Northern Iowa Overseas Recruitment Fair http://www.uni.edu/placement/overseas - Not a placement agency, but well-respected recruitment fair held by UNI.

  • Held in Waterloo, Iowa once per year. Typically end of January, to the beginning of February.
  • No placement fees for teachers who wish to attend. Registration fee to open resume file.
  • Many international schools attend the UNI Fair for staffing purposes.

Additional Teaching Abroad Resources

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Additional Resources

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