Summary: Working Abroad
Have you ever wanted to make a change in your career, see a new country, or experience a new culture? Working abroad may be right for you. Last year, I was lucky enough to receive an offer for a job in Paris, France. Leaving behind my family and my comfort zone in Canada was intimidating at times, but a few months into my new life in Paris, I am so thankful that I took the leap and accepted that job offer abroad. For a related article on the benefits of studying abroad, click here.
Working abroad has brought me countless personal and career benefits, and I recommend everyone to consider it. Here are some of the personal and career benefits that I’ve experienced:
A Competitive Edge in Your Career
For starters, working abroad has brought me tremendous opportunities for career growth. Before I moved to Paris, all of my work experience had been in Canada and the extent of my international work exposure was a handful of ex-colleagues and classmates who had moved to New York or San Francisco. When I thought about job opportunities, I thought almost entirely about North America. Now that I live in Paris, I have a network of contacts in France; I have learned a lot about the European economic landscape; and I have even had to speak French sometimes at work, a language which I only started seriously learning in 2019.
Through all of this, I feel more secure in my career now than I did a year ago. I can bring additional value to my current employer by offering up a Canadian perspective, something which is not too common in France. And if something ever goes wrong in my current job, I have more contacts now that can help me find my next opportunity; more transferrable skills and knowledge than before; and I can even search for jobs in two languages, doubling the odds that I succeed in finding something interesting.
Personal Growth in Your New Life
Beyond the tremendous career growth, moving to Paris has been a great opportunity for personal development. The city is nothing like my hometown of Winnipeg – the architecture is different, the French lifestyle is different (nobody works between 12pm-2pm?!), I have met so many interesting people hailing from French-speaking nations such as those in Central / Western Africa and the many French overseas territories, and I have eaten more croissants this month than I ate in the entire first 23 years of my life. All that to say, Paris is nothing like what I used to think of as my “comfort zone.” Whenever you move abroad, you will quickly appreciate all the new life experiences that you never would have had back home, and you will find your comfort zone expanding with each passing day.
Final Thoughts: What to Consider When Thinking About Working Abroad
Moving to a new country for work is daunting at times, and it is definitely not for everyone. The local norms will be different than those at home, you may be expected to speak a new language, and even regular events like a trip to the grocery store will probably feel different for some reason or another. There will be loads of paperwork to fill out and endless conversations with government officials. And most importantly, you will be far from your friends and family, and you will probably need to make some extra effort at first to meet new people.
But what you get in return is so valuable – a competitive edge in your long-term career, the opportunity to meet new people and immerse yourself in a new culture, and if all goes well, a new place that you are happy to call home.
If that sounds like a good deal to you, I highly encourage you to think about working internationally.