Go Girl: How to Get Your Dream Career Abroad

If you are a millennial, chances are you like to travel. In a recent study on travel trends conducted by the , 75 percent of the 4,000 millennials surveyed reported a desire to travel abroad as much as possible. But traveling and living abroad are, to quote the oft used tourist phrase, “same-same, but different.” A visit will provide you with new experiences and some food for thought; a long-term stay can provide you with the time to find answers to questions and change the way you see the world.

In today’s globalized world, many professionals work outside their home country for many different reasons. For some, such as Organizational Expatriates (OEs), the employer initiates stints abroad. The goal is for the international experience to develop employees’ skills so their remit can be broadened once they are back on home base. This is the traditional way, but what to do if you are a young millennial wanting to initiate your own move abroad?

There is a growing group of professionals known as self-initiated expatriates (SIEs). SIEs are seekers, actively pursuing oversees experiences. Valuing adventure over stability, their goal is to have a “boundaryless” career where they can gain understanding of a culture or country alongside developing their career. Interestingly, they pursue this even though they bear the financial risk. In the past, middle managers made up much of this group. Take the example of Edith, a senior HR manager with an international car company. When she was in her early fifties, she chose to move from Germany to Brazil wanting a cultural challenge. While her company sponsored her for the first year, she was required find ways to sustain her position in the long term.

Millennials may not have the financial means or clout to ask for transfers through their company, but they can pursue positions abroad on their own and carve their careers in a similar manner. Southeast Asia is full of examples of young millennials–such as KeoK’Jay’s Rachel Faller and Clear Singapore’s Morgane Gaubier–who have moved abroad for their careers. Whereas OEs are seen as ‘active careerists,’ SIEs are ‘career activists’ pursuing paths that fit with their aspirations.

There is no tried and true formula for making the move abroad. Some cultures value diverse resumes composed of international odd jobs. Australian photojournalist Roff Smith explains that job interviewers would more likely chat with a 20-something about her time spent traveling, and the shared places they have been, than on her unfocused resume. The reality remains, however, that many employees hold a more traditional viewpoint where gaps in a resume are unwelcome. Thankfully, there is no reason millennials can’t build a career and have an adventure at the same time. A globalized workplace does welcome experiences that build cultural competency, which is deemed necessary for middle management and a prerequisite for more senior positions. Adventurous and mobile, millennials are at the perfect age to pursue SIE positions. So go girl, pursue the unknown, be the intrapreneur or entrepreneur of your own life, and carve your dream career.

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