We live in a world where we can connect to literally every corner of the planet. Sure, there may be some disconnect with remote Antarctica, deep in the jungles of Africa or the Amazon, but we’re pretty well connected worldwide. In 2015, the International Telecommunication Union reported approximately 3.2 billion people online. Of that population approximately 2 billion from from developing countries.
This level of connectivity truly makes the globe seem a lot smaller and a lot more accessible to us. Further, with this ability to link and build relationships virtually, every individual also has the power to contribute and make a global impact— not just online but through work abroad opportunities.
Why Would Someone Want to Work Abroad?
I’m going to share my story so you can get a bit of insight as to why I’m personally such a huge proponent of overseas work experience.
In 2009, I volunteered in Botswana as an HR advisor for an NGO. During those three weeks, I experienced a profound shift in perspective on the AIDS situation in the world, how big the world really is, and how relatively small my own little world was back home in Vancouver. That trip changed everything.
I met people from around the world, and I lost so many preconceived ideas about people who are living with HIV. I was in a country where one in three people is impacted by the disease, and I never knew who was HIV positive, and who wasn’t. It really reinforced the fact that at the end of the day, people are defined by who they are at their core, rather than the labels we affix to them.
People are individuals.
That was my first experience working abroad, and it allowed me to realize just how much travelling can broaden our perspectives. It opens both our eyes and our minds to what else is out there, and also made me realize how important it is to create these opportunities for ourselves: so we can learn and grow while also being forces for positive change in the global community.
After my trip to Botswana, I went to India as a volunteer at an orphanage for children whose parents were imprisoned, and that turned into a paid contract. Amazingly, I made this opportunity for myself simply by contacting the orphanage and letting them know that I wanted to volunteer with them. Once I was there, I helped them fundraise for their nonprofit marketing initiatives, and the results were so successful that they kept me on in a paid role. The work I did there had a profound impact on the children’s lives: the kids at the orphanage were either waiting for their parents to get out of jail, or else they were orphaned because their parents had died while imprisoned. They needed money for food and to go to school, otherwise they would have ended up on the streets. This was good work that benefited so many, and all it took to put this positive change into action was a simple phone call.
After my time in India, I kept manifesting that I wanted to work internationally, and managed to network and connect with a number of people who did international work. They helped me to secure volunteer positions with nonprofit organizations, and that was a stepping stone to paid international positions.
Volunteering abroad is an idea way to dip your toes into the work-abroad experience, and are often easier to secure VISAs for. There are many different programs that allow people to volunteer abroad for global experience, but there are also ways to work around various VISA requirements. As an example, depending on how long a country allows visitors to stay, you can go “on vacation” for a month somewhere and work remotely for your company.
Conferences and Trade Mission
Networking to make connections is vital when it comes to volunteering, but another option is to take advantage of opportunities to go on trade missions. If the company you’re working for provides chances to attend different conferences, you have the ability to network with others at those conferences, and to also glean firsthand awareness of what may be possible within that country.
This is especially relevant if you’re in business, since trade missions allow you to grow your business with federal and provincial/state government assistance. It’s desirable for people to export to other countries, so these government bodies can provide funding and resources to help you grow your presence elsewhere, and establish good supplier/customer connections. To look into this further, take some time and delve into resources for small businesses, especially those that focus on women’s initiatives.
Whichever route you choose to take, there are numerous opportunities to gain you invaluable experience working in countries you’ve always wished to visit. Your presence there can have a monumental impact on our global community plus you’ll leave with broadened perspectives and spectacular memories.
I invite you to a complimentary coaching consultation on how to develop your international opportunity. Please book your time here.