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8 Great Reasons Why You Should Work Abroad In Your 20s

8 Great Reasons Why You Should Work Abroad In Your 20s

When I was 24, I got a job offer to work in Naples, Italy. The only problem, as far as my mother was concerned, was that there was a cholera epidemic there at the time. Our local newspaper was full of morbid details about the 22 deaths. She tried to stop me going but failed. I got the vaccination and off I went. It was an adventure that was so exciting and unforgettable that I am still living in Italy and will never leave it now. So, what are the reasons why you should work abroad in your 20s if you get the chance, like I did?

1. It helps to build your character

I was facing an enormous challenge. I had to drive a long way through Europe. I was a novice as regards driving in Naples, which was hair-raising but liberating! I had to cope with a new language as I hardly knew any Italian. I had to walk into a new job and learn to get on with a variety of unforgettable characters. I cannot think of a better character-building exercise.

2. It opens up new career paths

I had always wanted to be a teacher but teaching English as a foreign language was a new challenge. I had done some initial training in London, which really helped me to get started. While in Naples, I was stimulated to study for a Diploma, which was an essential career building block. I was also lucky enough to win a scholarship to study for a Masters in Linguistics. Having worked abroad can give you the extra edge when you start applying for jobs later on.

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3. It can broaden your mind

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

There is no doubt about it. Travel widens your horizons in every sense of the word. Experimenting with new cuisine, seeing exotic locations and wonderful works of art all add to your personal development and education. I met new people who enriched me enormously.

4. It can help sort out stereotypes and perceptions

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley

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We all grow up with certain preconceived notions about national stereotypes. These are the result of our education, religious views, racial origin, family upbringing and our gender. We expect to meet disorganized Italians, cold Scandinavians and aggressive Africans. These stereotypes can turn into prejudice, which is risky. Travel will soon dispel these notions because you may well meet the friendliest Scandinavian you can imagine. I quickly learned to question and discover more about Italians before rushing to any conclusions.

5. It encourages you to take risks

“I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.” – George Bernard Shaw

Taking risks while you are in your 20s is much less dangerous than later on. There are also loads of opportunities now. I took a risk moving to another country, learning a new language and giving up a pensionable job in a boring, Irish town. My mother never really forgave me for giving up that pension. But the new opportunities, experiences and enrichment of my life more than made up for that. I was right in thinking that I would never get the chance again. Once you settle into relationships and a career, moving abroad becomes a gigantic task.

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6. It enables you to see all those places you dreamed about.

7.  It helps you sort out what you really want from life

Being stuck in one place in your early 20s is not going to do your creativity much good. Yes, you may be able to escape for holidays, but that is not the same as making out, organizing living quarters, finding a job, and seeking new relationships. All these exercises help you decide what you really want from life.

8. It can do wonders for your cooking

“The most sincere form of love is love for food.” – George Bernard Shaw

I loved eating out and being invited to sample Italian food. People always talk about food in Italy and it is a sign of great culture. Soon, things caught up with me as I had to start inviting people back. That was how I learned to cook. It also laid the foundations for a healthy diet and has been instrumental in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let us know in the comments where you would like to work abroad and why. Your stereotypes are in for a rough ride!

Featured photo credit: Mount Vesuvius/Glen Scarborough via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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