“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” — Max de Pree
As you know, I am currently working in Senegal. Before this job I was an intern, fellow or consultant in 9 countries that are neither places where I was raised, nor the country where I went to university, for various periods of time. Beyond the opportunity to travel, these experiences enriched my life personally and professionally. For this reason, though it’s not always easy to adjust to unfamiliar settings, I will keep searching for and welcoming opportunities to work (and live) abroad.
In this post I share some of my reasons for making this decision. Acknowledging that our stories, career paths, lifestyles and situations vary, I encourage you to consider working abroad if you can.
5 good reasons to consider working abroad
You can improve your professional profile and become an attractive potential employee
As an expatriate you will learn processes and procedures particular to the country where you work, and these might differ from your home country or previous country of residence. It will therefore be possible to notice and discuss differences and similarities between different settings. There will also be opportunities to learn from exposure to different office cultures and working styles. Ultimately employers will see you as a well-traveled, culturally competent, flexible, and adaptable potential hire.
5 highly-desirable skills in every field in every country on Earth
- Excellent oral communication skills
- Exemplary written communication skills
- Impressive interpersonal skills (including teamwork)
- Exceptional organization skills
- Good time management skills
You can learn (words and phrases in) a new language
It is likely that you will pick up a few words and phrases in the local language of the city where you work. It might be out of necessity or to try to “blend in.” Whatever the case may be, it is wise: the talent acquisition company Winter Wyman cites increased marketability and distinguishability as two (of five) reasons why learning a language other than your mother tongue will help your career.
12 words or phrases worth knowing in the local or most spoken language in a new city
- Hello/ Hi
- How are you?
- I am fine/ well
- Thank you
- Excuse me
- How much is this?
- I don’t understand
You can gain valuable life experience
As I mentioned in my post on unrealistic thoughts/ expectations about life abroad, living in a foreign country is different from visiting it as a tourist. Besides disrupting your routine, moving abroad can provide opportunities to test your limits, discover new interests, form new habits, and get to know yourself better. In turn, you will grow both personally and professionally. Bonus? You gain more travel experience in the process.
5 websites for expatriates
You can expand your personal and professional networks
Living and working abroad helps expand one’s personal and professional network rapidly. Besides natives of the country of adoption, you will likely meet fellow expatriates with whom to share experiences and navigate challenges. These new friends and acquaintances will expose you to different cultures, enrich your social life, and possibly present various opportunities including jobs.
3 ways to meet people abroad
- Join social groups, clubs and communities (ex. a church community, a gym, yoga or pilates classes, etc.)
- Use social media platforms (my personal favorite :))
You can develop more love/ appreciation for your home country/ country of citizenship
The Lagos-related Photo Diary I shared earlier this month is evidence that I miss one of my countries of citizenship right now. Although I am grateful for and appreciate aspects of my life in Dakar, staying here for an extended period of time makes me appreciate what makes Lagos feel like home to me. Indeed, although my relationship with Nigeria can feel like it is constantly switching between real love and slight hate, I grow more fond of the 234 when I spend an extended period of time away from it. I even try to keep up with the politics in Nigeria to know when and how to vote in next year’s presidential election! So, one could say that living abroad has made me more patriotic…
The #1 thing I love and miss most here in Senegal
- UBER (*cry face*) (and, yes, there are Uber drivers in Lagos, Nigeria :))