Working abroad can be an exciting and rewarding experience. You can improve your language skills, expand your knowledge of other cultures, and obtain great experience for your resume. However, it can be difficult. I first interned at an American company overseas. I was shocked to find the job was different than described and the company culture was foreign to me despite it being an American firm. There was a considerable distance between the local and expat staff and there was a lot of finger pointing. I was not able to befriend local staff as I’d hoped. I did not get the chance to practice my language skills because local staff wanted to practice English.
Consequently, I decided to work for a small local company. I was able to speak the language every day in a laid back environment. Eventually I befriended a few members of the staff but it was not easy; there was a large difference between our salaries and I had an office although I was much younger than most of them. I had trouble learning about the business from them and meeting clients with whom they interacted. But I was a manager and obtained experience which I could not have gotten at a job back home at that point in my career. I also had to be proactive and initiated new ideas with colleagues.
Working overseas is a tremendous learning experience. It’s important to be prepared and to expect challenges along the way – I might have had an easier time if I didn’t go into it expecting things to be easy. What interests you about an international assignment?