If you’re thinking about starting a career that involves travel, or travelling internationally in your existing job, stop thinking and start planning. Working abroad can be an incredible opportunity to advance your career, enjoy new experiences in a variety of places and meet interesting people. However, the benefits of a career abroad also come with a lot of change. Understanding the impact of working overseas can help you determine whether it’s the right choice for you and your family.
One of the first things you’ll likely want to consider will be travel’s impact on your career. Are there other people in your field or at your company that work abroad? Is there support for those staff? Are they regarded as promising leaders? If working abroad will give you the opportunity for travel experiences that you would enjoy, or if it will give you more opportunity to distinguish yourself as a professional and a leader, it might be worthwhile moving toward.
Lifestyle is another consideration. What countries or regions will it be possible for you to work in, given your career? Are they places you have an interest in? How similar or different will your everyday life be? And how comfortable have you been in the past when it comes to change? If you thrive on trying new food, navigating new places, learning and problem solving new processes and technology, a career abroad will be easier than if you prefer a stable, comfortable home life. Even for the most adventurous, it’s important to have a strategy for smoothing the transition and coping with life in a different place. Bringing some familiar objects, relocating with a loved one or close friend, and participating in an expat community can all help.
You’ll also want to think about whether language and cultural differences might be a barrier to your career or not. Will you mostly be working with people who share your language skills or are used to working with translators? Does your personality type connect well with social norms and personal interactions in your destination country? A good fit will help your career thrive, while a poor fit could set you back.
If you have a family, planning what’s best for them is also important. Will the children relocate with you, or stay with extended family members for trips? Will they be immersed in a new culture and language, or will you place them in an international school at home, at your destination, or in a location you pass through regularly? Schools for Americans in places like Hong Kong or other parts of Asia offers high quality education in English, and exposes children to a diverse international community of students. Local schools might pose more difficulties with adjusting to cultural and social norms, for instance, as well as language challenges.
A career abroad can offer incredible opportunity for advancement, excitement and priceless experiences, but it does come with a lot of considerations. Work through your and your family’s needs and preferences to make the right choice for you as an individual, for your career success, and for your family.