Sunday

Work Experience Abroad


 
Getting a work placement abroad is a great way to gain valuable experience in the work place with the added bonus of experiencing and understanding other cultures and seeing other parts of the world. But before applying for a placement, it is extremely important that you do your own research into what it is exactly that you wish to achieve and what kind of work you wish to do in order for you to gain the most out of your experience.

Work experience abroad is not just about getting paid. In fact, in many placements, you will not get paid for the work that you do. Often the placement may be a voluntary placement and you must remember that being paid a salary is not the point of getting work experience, especially abroad. What you will learn on a cultural and personal level will be invaluable for adapting to other environments and work situations in later life and the experience will be something that you will always remember.

What to do before you leave


Firstly, the most important thing that you have to decide is how you would like to organise your trip. You must decide first of all whether you would like to organise the trip and work placement totally by yourself or through an organisation. However, whichever way you decide to approach getting a placement, research, done by yourself, is paramount to getting a placement that is right for you and is important for ensuring that you can make the most of your placement and enjoy it as much as possible. Going through an organisation does reduce to some extent, the paper work and research that you would have to do by yourself since organisations have access to and information already on the kinds of placements that are available and have established contacts with many other companies abroad. Understanding the laws of the country, company welfare policies towards their staff is imperative before embarking on a work experience placement.

How to prepare for the country you are going to

In preparation for your work experience placement there are a few things to consider. Firstly, and most importantly, is the issue of language. If you are going to a country where the language is different to that of your mother tongue, you should be able to speak at a standard that will enable you to, at the very least, carry a basic conversation with those that you will be working with.

It is very important to familiarise yourself with the customs and traditions of the country and to find out about daily routine. For example, finding out whether the company you work with takes a siesta, how many hours a day will you be expected, on average, to work etc. You must search the job market and find out what the requirements are for specific roles and jobs that you might be interested in. It is also important to find out costs of living; how much food costs, how much accommodation costs and what you should expect to pay for travel and getting around.

Research on healthcare, taxes and insurance is necessary to help you to adapt to your surroundings easily. Much of the necessary information that you will need can be found on the Internet or through making phone calls direct to organisations that deal with placements or through phoning the company that you wish to work for directly.

How to establish yourself once you are out there

Once you have arrived at your placement, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the local transport and information services, which can be obtained either through the Internet or through local tourist information centres.

It is important that you make yourself as comfortable and integrated as possible in the culture that you will find yourself in, in order for you to gain the most from your placement. You will benefit greatly by reading local newspapers, making an effort with your neighbours and work colleagues and participating in local activities or local groups out of office hours. You will come to understand the culture and the local community much better and will come away with much more than just an office experience, you will have gained an insight into another way of life and way of living which any future employer will value. Above all it will be a valuable experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.

FAQ's

How important is it to speak the language of the country I will be working in?

You should at least be able to get by at a basic level and be able to carry a conversation with those around you. Obviously, you will get much more out of the experience if you are able to communicate well with those that are working and living around you and you will be intergrated much quicker into your surroundings and feel more settled.

Will I get paid?

Some placements will pay you and others will not. Many placements are voluntary placements and are in conservation or welfare and more often than not these are unpaid. However, it is up to the discression of the employer and it is up to you what kind of work you wish to be involved with.

Where will I live while I am abroad?

Some employers that employ staff from overseas provide accommodation but this is not so for every case. It is best to ask your employer about these arrangements before you go. Like any city or country, there will be hostels, rooms and apartments to rent or share if you would prefer.

Will it be expensive living and working abroad?

Living costs vary greatly from country to country and city to city. In some instances, you will find that certain things are a lot cheaper while others are a lot more expensive. Talk to anyone who has worked or lived abroad and they will tell you that it is very impotrtant to do thorough research into the costs of living and have a realistic budget.

What will I gain from working abroad?

Work placements abroad allow you to differentiate yourself from the rest and stand out from the crowd by showing you not only have experience in a given field, but also that you have demonstrated your ability to live and work in a foreign culture. This adaptability looks extremely good on your resume and is attractive to any prospective employer, not to mention the rich personal experience of travelling and experiencing another culture. It can and should be one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences of your life.