College graduates who’ve been bitten by the travel bug but don’t have the funds to see the world might still have the opportunity to travel by working abroad after college. Living and working in a new country may have its challenges but the experience may also transform graduates in ways that are likely to be impressive to future employers.
The Pros and Cons of Working Abroad
Though it can be an enjoyable experience, working abroad can also have challenges. Considering both the pros and cons is recommended before making this life-changing decision.
Making Money While Traveling
Working abroad allows graduates to start their career while also having the opportunity to travel. This can be a popular post-graduation choice for students who want to travel but don’t have the funds. Moving to a new country generally makes it easier to truly explore and get to know a country better.
Travel to nearby countries may be easy as well, so instead of visiting a single country during a one-week vacation, traveling workers might be able to experience multiple countries and cultures.
Learning the Language
Living abroad gives people a great opportunity to learn a new language or sharpen their skills in one they already speak. Every situation, from ordering breakfast to figuring out transportation, will give recent grads an opportunity to improve their language skills. The ability to speak more than one language might also open more doors in the job market. Being multilingual has become an increasingly desired skill. Learning a language while abroad could pay off in the future.
Unfamiliar surroundings. A different culture. Moving to a new country means lots of adjustments. People will communicate differently, eat differently, work differently. Every part of life will be new, which can be both exciting and stressful, and adjustment to life in a new place may be experienced in a range of stages, beginning with excitement and enthusiasm, with maybe some frustration in the middle, to feeling at home in new surroundings and building relationships.
Dealing with a language barrier can be stressful and scary. Not only can a language barrier make daily activities difficult, it can also make building relationships pretty slow-going. This can feel isolating for people who don’t understand the local language.
Finding an international job isn’t all that different from finding one here in the states. Recent grads might consider looking on well-known job search sites or those specific to finding opportunities in other countries. Some overseas job opportunities might be found on websites for international humanitarian organizations , travel magazines , or even the United Nations .
Requirements to Work Abroad
Getting a passport and an employment visa are important parts of preparing to work in a foreign country. Most countries grant specific work visas to international workers, but the requirements and process for getting the visa will vary by country.
The US Department of State provides some information for people interested in teaching in international schools . Checking the individual country’s official government website for visa information is recommended. Employers may be involved with the visa application, possibly being required to apply on behalf of its employees.
It’s also important to know whether or not fluency in the language is required. People who are not fluent in a language other than English and do not want to learn before moving may want to consider countries where English is the official language .
Graduates who like to think long term may want to consider applying for jobs with global companies that have positions in multiple countries , including the United States. This may open up opportunities to move back to the US in the future.
One popular choice for working abroad is teaching English. A teaching degree may or may not be required, so checking requirements of any job is important.
Recommended certifications for teaching English to non-English speakers include TESOL, TEFL, or CELTA certification. There are varying levels of certification, and classes can be taken in person or online. Choosing an accredited course will likely help a candidate’s job search.
Another popular option is to look for seasonal work, such as jobs in the tourism industry. This work can be anything from working at a ski resort, to a hostel, to bartending. People who enjoy caring for children might be interested in working as an au pair, which typically includes room and board in addition to a salary.
Other Post-Graduation Decisions
Finding a job isn’t the only task that begins after graduation. Once a student graduates, drop below half-time enrollment, or leaves school, the task of paying back student loans begins. Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, and Federal Family Education Loan borrowers have a six-month grace period before they’re required to start making payments. Students who took out a Perkins loan have a nine-month grace period.
Parent PLUS loans do not have a grace period unless a deferment is requested. Graduate and professional students with PLUS loans are given automatic payment deferment for six months after graduation, dropping to half-time enrollment, or leaving school.
Refinancing student loans into a new loan may offer borrowers a lower interest rate or different terms than an existing loan. Both federal and private student loans can be refinanced, but when federal student loans are refinanced by a private lender, the borrower loses federal benefits like income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs, deferment, or forbearance.
Whether your future employment is in the US or in a foreign country, there are lots of options to consider. What kind of work to look for? Which employer might offer the opportunities and experiences you’re looking for? How much of a challenge are you up for? No matter where your future employment takes you, if you have a student loan, repayment will follow.
If refinancing a student loan is something you’re considering, SoFi has options that may work for your situation. Saving money is simple with SoFi’s online application process, low fixed or variable rates, and flexible terms.
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If you are a federal student loan borrower you should take time now to prepare for your payments to restart, including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) Please note that once you refinance federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans, such as the SAVE Plan, or extended repayment plans.
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