7 Benefits of Working Internationally
Life is about choices. Frost isn’t the only one who came to the fork in the road. The difference is you’ll reach the fork at least twice: at the beginning of your career and at the end.
If you take the road less travelled and go for the international experience, you’ll truly change the whole direction of your life. You and your family will never see yourselves in quite the same way again and when you go home, wherever that might be, you’ll certainly won’t see your old friends and neighbours and even your extended family with the same eyes you’d used before.
Your children will have whole new ways of looking at the world and the parameters around their own lives. Their futures will change as alterably as their lives have unless you hide out in an expat ghetto.
Your second chance comes at the end of your career where you’ve climbed your mountains, scaled a few cliffs, got scrapes and a few tumbles and have a story to tell to people in new countries just starting on the journey you’re wrapping up.
The second chance to choose the road less travelled may have a cost in terms of old friends at home who are just retiring slipping off to the golf course but the satisfaction tied up in the words” Im paying back” can be one of the greatest joys of your whole career. So, there it is. Take a risk. Share an adventure. Or, hanker down and plod out a life of safety and convention.
Your life doesn’t have to be a novel but it could have pieces of a novel in it.
When you take your chance at working internationally, here are the benefits:
1. Strengthen your skills in working with other cultures and with a team coming from varied backgrounds.
Even for just a short time, international work is intense. This is especially true when you work with an international team to put together a plan or a framework to present to the Government.
Usually, each member of the team has his or her own particular assignment but it must fit together in the overall plan. Cultures, experiences, expertise and egos are all at play. Disagreements have to be resolved and I tell you, even if your part is only for 3 months, it will teach you plenty of lessons on working with a team from varied backgrounds, lessons you will never learn if you just work in your own country.
Working with the locals who in many cases will be your bosses will also be a challenge but it will hone your skills to understand where other people come from when they express their views or behave in ways you won’t understand.
2. Build your skills to work more effectively in challenging and unfamiliar environments.
Maybe you’re used to getting data easily or meeting people you need to talk to when you are preparing a paper in your own country. This is often not true in many countries where you can hardly get data or information. In many cases, there is no mechanism for efficient data collection. In other cases, they are hesitant to share information. So, what do you do?
I remember one consultant whom we truly admire. He goes through his work without much complaint as the others do whose only cop out for their ineffectual behaviour is to blame the locals. This consultant has been very effective and he has led or be part of hundreds of projects.
What we observed is when he needed data, he goes to where it is lodged and stay there and waits for it even if it takes him a day to get it. His patience often pays off. Maybe, they take pity on an old man.
3. Provide your family international experience which can enhance their career possibilities.
Even when your family only stay with you for a short time, the experience will always shape their lives. If they stay longer especially study there for a year or two or even more, they often expand their network of friends from different countries, learn about other cultures and learn to speak another language. Something deeper than that happens internally, too. It shapes the person they become.
4. Enhance your own career possibilities.
Once you have done one international assignment, you often get into the network of international consultants who, if you have proven to be a good team leader or a capable specialist, will recommend you for the next assignment. Before you know it, you will keep working internationally and never go back to your regular job. If you do go back, you will have the advantage of having international experience and all that such brings and will be an asset to your company.
5. Expand your network internationally.
Not only will you have friends locally, but you will be meeting and living with many other expats. Before you know it, you will have friends in many other countries.
6. Learn a new language, work skills and about new places.
Often, you think all you need to do is transfer the skills you have in your work back home. A new environment can challenge this. You may have to work on other things you have never done before and learn fast to do it.
There are many aspects of your skills set that will be further enhanced when you work in new environments. Other skills which were not important in your own country may become key in your new workplace.
Here's one that is fun. When you work in other countries, it is easy to travel to nearby countries or arrange stop-overs when you go to your new assignment. So, this is your chance to see the places you have always wanted to visit.
7. Experience new values, traditions and ways of doing things. Whatever country you will work in will have plenty of unique tradition and ways. Becoming part of these is a rare experience. Chances are it will bring you new insight not only about other cultures but your own self as well.
So, what are you waiting for? In our family, we’ve always said the difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. so children, grandchildren, sisters and bothers are all over the world sharing and being part of the great international community. the choice is always yours.
Take the road less taken…it will make all the difference.
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