Whether you’re an engineer or a scientist, planning to go to culinary school or become a musician, teaching abroad for a year or two will make you a more well-rounded hire no matter what your ultimate plans hold!
It’s impossible to live abroad and not learn to be okay with basically….anything. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned in life, and this is ten times more true when you’re living in place that’s a complete 180° culturally from the place you grew up. One of the most exciting things my roommate and I used to do when we first arrived in Asia was walk into restaurants and order off the menu, despite the fact that we had no idea what we were ordering. We loved the surprise of what arrived at our table! As a teacher, plans can change at the drop of a hat, especially when working with children.
Getting used to an Asian style of management can also be a bit of a challenge, but with a positive attitude and respect for those differences, it’s easy to adapt and become comfortable anywhere. Living abroad demonstrates and openness and willingness to adapt to future employers, and no matter what field you are in or where in the world you work, those are characteristics every employer finds desirable!
2) Communication Skills
Whether or not you actually learned Chinese while living abroad, you inevitably communicated with Chinese people on a daily basis and overcame culture and language barriers. Successfully maintaining good relationships and “guanxi” (connections) in a culture that was initially foreign to you demonstrates to any future employer that you have the ability to function in a multi-cultural environment. As companies become more international and the world becomes more connected, demonstrated success taking communication with people outside your own culture or native language to a deeper level is becoming a must.
Open-mindedness is the “state in which the mind becomes teachable.” It means the ability to make changes in your thinking and perception, which is necessary for any kind of growth! It is perhaps the single most important characteristic of those who successfully live and teach abroad, because so much of your mindset and perceptions from your home culture will change. Everything from how to pay your bills to how you interact with your neighbors to how you take out your trash and buy food could be a drastically different experience than what you’re used to at home. Re-learning simple everyday tasks can be scary to some, but willingness to teach your mind new daily routines is the beautiful mark of a well-adjusted person…and this is definitely a quality that will make you a more desirable hire no matter your field.
Nothing shows self-sufficiency like packing up your bags and moving to a foreign country! The confidence it takes to resettle your life in a place where you may not speak the language or understand the culture is a bold move that shows fearlessness of being alone in a new place, and no matter the field, employers love a sense that you are comfortable being independent.
5) Willingness to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
You didn’t move abroad because you wanted it to be the same as your life at home. Most life changes will push your outside your comfort zone, but moving abroad announces that you CHOSE to be outside your comfort zone. Everything from buying food to teaching will often stretch your imagination and test your strength of character. A successful time teaching abroad and the resulting demonstration that you can really shows that you can thrive outside of your comfort zone! [NOTE: THIS ONE NEEDS WORK]
6) Language Skills
In today’s world of globalization, knowledge of a second or third language is key, and living abroad is the best way to gain another language! Even if you don’t have time to study in depth or gain fluency, basic knowledge of a foreign language will show your future employer that you went the extra mile to immerse yourself in the culture through language. You’ll also be surprised how useful a basic, working knowledge of another language can be when working in an international company, or in doing outreach to foreigners in your own community at home!
7) Stand Out
When you’re ready to leave and begin applying to jobs back at home, anyone reviewing your resume will do a double take when they notice your mailing address is in China! To HR reps who read dozens or more resumes on a weekly basis, sometimes all it takes is the extra little detail that makes your resume stand out!