Why Working Abroad Can Be a Wise Career Move
For a millennial or Gen Z professional, working abroad is as much an option as everything else.
I, for one, would never have imagined working in Singapore where I stayed and labored for less than a year. It turned out to be a wise career move. The short-term stint taught me perseverance, efficiency, and independence among other things. Eating laksa and adding "Ieh" or "Iah" at the end of my statements were the least of my learnings.
Below, I summarize five insights on why working abroad can be a wise career move.
1. Working abroad opens up possibilities and new perspectives
When I was in Singapore, I witnessed firsthand the efficiency and seamless workings of their transportation system. I was impressed!
After doing some research and corroborating it with conversations from Singaporeans, I learned that the government heavily fines rule breakers. That's why most Singaporeans I've met rarely bend the rules.
Their tendency to get things done as quickly as possible reflects on many aspects.
For instance, the moment you fall in line in a fast-food chain, you're expected to know already what to order. If you arrive at the counter undecided, the clerk will frown at you. The next person in line will frown at you. They'll order you to get back at the end of the like lest your slow decision-making further interrupts the fast lane.
Efficiency is one aspect that's sorely lacking in my country of origin. I've thought, if things can be done in the same efficient manner at work, it will be a great improvement indeed.
You'll have similar changes in perspective the moment you move out in a different country. Suddenly, an idea that you previously thought impossible becomes a reality. People are doing it here, so why can't you?
Working abroad opens up the possibilities for a change in the system, behaviors or thought process.
You get the chance to see the view from the other side of the window. And you get to think about which view you would prefer.
2. You'll get immersed in a different culture
Soaking in a different culture is fun. It's difficult, at first. But the moment you get the hang of how people speak or act in your presence, you'll be amazed at your own tolerance.
People influence culture as much as culture influences people. I found that especially true in Singapore.
Before coming here, I used to enjoy slow walks and long conversations.
But in this country, I've noticed that people are fast walkers. Singaporeans rarely look a person in the eye. They don't frequently make idle chats. When they do talk to you, it's about cold, hard facts. Work only, keep the personal stuff away.
For someone who thrives in focus and impersonality, this country can be a haven. But for someone friendly and sociable, the people's aloofness can be daunting.
That's why when moving out, it's important to understand the culture of the country you're moving into. Understand not just the country's general culture, be familiar also with the company's culture. Check whether you'll be a good fit. Believe me, it's for your own sake as much as the company.
3. You'll get exposed to a new business environment
As a professional, this exposure will give you an edge. You'll get to understand what works and what doesn't in a particular business. You'll get to try dealing and negotiating with businessmen and fellow professionals who think differently as you do.
Their ideas will sometimes trigger your thought process. The way they communicate will affect you, their mannerisms and habits can influence you. Learning in a new business environment is a worthwhile challenge. It will change your ways and give you insights into how different companies run their business.
4. You'll gain international connections
If you plan to move around the world through your work, getting out of your country of origin is the first step. By working abroad, you'll meet different nationalities who are on a similar adventure as yours. They will know someone from somewhere.
If you have a stellar performance, they might even hire you directly or invite you for an interesting position in another country.
Another thing, you might meet people who'll be capitalists or customers of your future business. Come to think of it, this networking thing is not only possible when you work abroad. But you'll definitely cast a wider network and exposure the moment you get out there.
5. You're increasing your chances for promotion or getting hired for higher positions.
With all the international exposure, cultural immersion, new perspectives, and connections that you acquire, your value as a professional increases. Your company will know your worth. Hiring companies will love you for it. You gain an edge against competitors, whether it's your promotion or acceptance that's at stake.
Working abroad is no easy choice for many
Other factors come into play such as your level of independence, ability to leave your comfort zone or be away from your loved ones, etc. In the end, you'll know better what's good for you.
But it also doesn't hurt to think of your available options and the merit of each one.
Have you worked in another country before? What was the experience like?
Did you find working abroad an enjoyable experience?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2020 Chris Martine