- Office of the Vice Provost
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This site is designed to assist you as you prepare for an international job or career. This site will also teach you skills and give you resources for successfully working and living abroad. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about working abroad. For more specific information about working abroad, click on the links below.
How can I work abroad?
Most students and graduates go abroad through special programs for working, interning, volunteering or teaching abroad. Another option is to create your own opportunities through research and networking. The benefit of using a program is that they may offer assistance with matters such as job placement, obtaining a work visa, pre-departure orientation, and on-site support. If you do it yourself, all these things are entirely up to you and if something goes wrong, you're on your own.
What kind of paperwork will I need to work overseas?
In most countries, you will need a special type of visa known as a work permit even for volunteering. Working for pay without a work permit is usually illegal and may put you at risk of deportation. Special programs for working, interning and volunteering abroad can usually help arrange for a work permit. If you are not going through a work abroad program, a work permit can generally be obtained only with assistance from your overseas employer. Most countries give information about work visas on their Embassy's web site.
What kinds of jobs are available to me after I graduate?
There are quite a variety of options. One very basic consideration is how long you want to work abroad. Some programs are limited in duration to several months, or in some cases up to a year. Note that some programs may be available only within a semester of graduation, or may have an upper age limit for participation (typically age 30 or 35). If you're willing to commit a year, programs for teaching English abroad would be an excellent choice, as would fellowship programs such as Fulbright. Finally, for those willing to commit to a stay abroad of two years or more, there are programs such as the Peace Corps.
I'm considering working in a foreign language environment, but I'm not sure my language skills are good enough. What do employers expect from foreign employees or interns?
Of course, you can work in a country in which English is the local language, especially since programs like BUNAC make it easy to work in Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Also, note that it's not always necessary to work in the language (if other than English) of the host country. For example, teachers of English as a foreign language are rarely required to know the host country's language. If you do choose to work in a foreign language that you've already studied, communicating in a foreign language at the workplace is certainly one of the most challenging parts of working abroad, but it should not intimidate you for several reasons. First, you will be surprised at how comfortable you become in the language, since you will be immersed in it everyday. Second, employers understand that you are not a native speaker and will have a certain level of patience for language difficulties you might have. Be ready to work hard, but most likely you won't be required to independently publish reports in a language you aren't completely fluent in. Finally, your superiors will be excited to have someone from another country working with them and will want their company to make a good impression on you. In short, do not be intimidated. The atmosphere probably won't be as stressful as you think.
Adapted from the University of Michigan International Center Website