How do I Choose the Best Work Abroad Program?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Man holding a globe
Man holding a globe

When choosing among work abroad programs, there are a number of important factors to consider, most of which have to do with the skill set, career goals, and needs of the employee. Finding a work abroad program that is a good fit means finding one that matches up with the employee's skill set and goals as well as her personal and financial needs. If just one of these factors is off, the entire working experience could be difficult for the employee as well as the employer.

Consider finances first. Will the work abroad program pay well enough for the employee to maintain her current lifestyle? Also, will the program cover her costs of relocation as well as the cost to relocate her family? For single people, the latter part of the last consideration may not apply, but it can be crucial for people who have families. Also, consider taxes and figure out how much will be owed in taxes abroad and back at home to make sure that the financial plan is still workable.

Once the finances are confirmed to be workable, consider how the work abroad program may be able to best utilize and build upon one's current skill set. Some people are even willing to take a pay cut in order to have the experience of working abroad and, perhaps learning new skills and improving on current skills as part of the bargain. The best possible situation is a work abroad program that will lead to a pay raise and will also advance the employee in her career.

Sometimes people take part in work abroad programs in order to try something entirely different or to make a major career change. In these cases, the purpose of the work abroad program may mostly have to do with one's professional experiences and professional happiness and less to do with advancing one's career and making more money. In these cases, it is important to make sure that the financial package offered by the work abroad program at least covers the basics even if the participating in the program means taking a pay cut.

For some people, working abroad is more about doing good than advancing their careers or making money. In these cases, it is most important to choose a work abroad program that is most aligned with one's beliefs and one's desires to be of service. However, in order to stay afloat, it is still important to make sure that all of one's basic needs will be met while participating in the program.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for , Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for , Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

umbra21

@pleonasm - As long as they are a good program in the first place. I would only ever choose to go through a reputable travel agency and sign everything cautiously just for that extra layer of protection. My mother always told stories of her friends who did work abroad programs as au pairs and ended up in terrible circumstances. The program did very little to help them.

These days I'm more likely to trust a company with an international reputation to protect.

pleonasm

@Iluviaporos - It's a matter of deciding what you would prefer though. I imagine that younger people without much experience or resources aren't going to necessarily thrive in a situation where they are foreigners trying to negotiate jobs in an unfamiliar environment.

Some people will do better at paid work abroad without the guidelines of a program, but others would probably prefer to have everything set out step by step. Particularly in a place where a misstep might land you in jail or facing some other problem. If you don't leave the boundaries of a good program, they will back you up and take care of you if something happens.

lluviaporos

Make sure you visit a few forums or noticeboards for ex-pats living in the place you want to visit. Sometimes it might turn out that a work abroad program isn't the right way to go. Sometimes it might be ideal but you have to pick the right one.

When I was researching teaching English in China I read a lot of articles by people who had done that and it seemed like the ideal was to get set up with a school with a work program that would provide housing and support, and then to get additional work as a tutor or elsewhere. You would have to make sure your visa would allow for this, but the work could end up being fairly lucrative (for the area) and the lifestyle was supposed to be very nice.

If you don't do this kind of research before you go you could end up locked into a contract stipulating when you have to come and go and who you can work for while you're there and that means you can't follow opportunities as they present themselves.

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