I just ran across a step-by-step guide from Heather Huhman at the Examiner.com on finding work abroad. She offers some useful and practical stuff, not the least of which is a nice list of websites at the end to help you search for actual jobs and internships. Huhman’s first step in the process is an important one:
Ask yourself why you want to go abroad.
This is a subject Sherry and I tackle in Working World. In our view, pursuing an international career is not always synonymous with working abroad. Just because a job sends you abroad doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best for building your international career. In the same way, even though a job doesn’t have an international travel component, it might still be a beneficial position for building your international career.
Let me clarify that, by making this point, I’m certainly not trying to deny these realities:
1) that most internationally-oriented positions (whether in the U.S. or abroad) require (or at least greatly value) international experience;
2) that going abroad without a set strategic plan can still be extremely valuable for your career (I went to China with zero strategery, and the experience has been infinitely useful in my career, in many ways); and
3) that being young and fresh out of college is an ideal time to gain that international experience and maybe go ahead and do that program in a random country even though it doesn’t make any sense to your parents.
All of these things are definitely true. I just agree with Huhman that it’s never a bad thing to reflect on why you want to go abroad. If you’re able to pin down exactly how the experience will help you in your future career, that’s great. If all you’re able to say is that it sounds challenging and you don’t have anything else to do anyway…well, that works too.