It’s a longtime tradition to travel abroad after completing university studies. In regency England, the Grand Tour of the Continent was standard for well-to-do students.

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Today, backpacking across Europe is the summer vacation of choice for many recent grads. In fact, countries like Canada make working abroad an easily attainable goal through the Working Holidaymaker Program. Thanks to the web, distant places have become more accessible to learn about and research, but nothing beats the experience of traveling or living abroad.

Beyond personal edification, choosing to work abroad can be a smart career move. In a competitive job market, it may be what sets a candidate apart and nets that job offer. That is just the tip of the benefits iceberg. Read on for more reasons why working abroad could be the career move of a lifetime.

Leadership

Working abroad requires a leap of faith. It shows guts, moxy, and requires follow-through to apply for and land a foreign gig. No matter how much research and preparation you do, the fact remains that you will be in a foreign land, far from friends and family.

Overcoming those obstacles will hone your leadership skills. Applying for a job abroad shows initiative. Following through with visa applications and job paperwork, and managing to communicate and work effectively with colleagues in another culture are impressive and tangible achievements that companies appreciate in a prospective employee.

People skills

When managers are asked for the most important skills or attributes that make for the best employees, “soft skills” emerge as the most valuable. “Hard skills” are needed to perform a job (e.g., coding software or creating a pivot table).

Then there are “soft skills” that make an employee invaluable. People skills are among the hottest capabilities to bring to the table, but they can be challenging to quantify in the interview process.

For the candidate who has worked abroad, anecdotal evidence makes a strong case. Being plopped into a new environment with no support system forces a person to sink or swim, make new friends and connections quickly, and carve out an individual niche in a community. Talk about demonstrating the ability to adapt to change quickly and effectively!

Working with people who speak a different tongue and come from a different culture is no small feat. If a candidate can navigate in that kind of environment, he or she is sure to excel in a more traditional setting.

Money

Accepting a position abroad can make great financial sense, especially if you relocate to a place with a lower cost of living. Many companies offer relocation packages to make the transition smoother.

There are also places where receiving tax-free pay is an option. When viewing the long term, employment abroad increases your value in the workplace and can translate into higher earnings for the duration of your career. That is a sound investment.

Fast-track

International exposure is an incredible way to fast-track your career and catapult to the next professional level. Challenges overseas are encountered over a much shorter span of time, gaining incredible experience. Networking and global exposure open up a lot of other opportunities as well and create a perfect storm of success.

Fun!

Last and certainly not least, living abroad is fun! In the words of Jimmy Buffett, “Changes in latitude, changes in attitude.” The beach, the mountains, festivals, music … a world of amazing activities and experiences is around the corner when you live in foreign lands.

South Africa is one of the global destinations that has come to the forefront of must-see locales, thanks to an incredibly unique geographical and historical landscape. Whether you seek a safari or a surfboard, the opportunities for adventure are rich, along with the chance to advance your career.

Making the decision to leave one’s country, family, and familiar settings is both exciting and frightening, but the rewards last a lifetime and the experience will shape your personal and professional life for much longer than the time you invest abroad.

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