Extending Your Education By Working Abroad

The years you spend in college are arguably the best years of your life. You get to move far from your hometown, meet new people, go to parties and events, and absorb new and exciting information until your brain can’t take it anymore. Not to mention you’re young, energetic, focused on your goals, and know exactly what you want out of life.

Or do you?

If there’s anything I learned in college it was that I didn’t know what I wanted. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted. But as graduation crept closer and closer, I realized I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Some people know what they’re going to do with their lives from day one and it works out very well for them. But it’s not reasonable to expect everyone to know what they want in their early 20s.

If you’re one of those people who aren’t sure about your path in life yet, don’t worry. You are not alone! Four years ago, I was in the same situation. I will tell you what I did to extend my period of freedom, meeting new people, and educating myself to the fullest, how I found my true passion, and how it can help you, too.

One day, a month before graduation, I was walking into our student union when a woman came up to me and asked if I was interested in getting TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified and working abroad as an English Teacher. I had studied abroad before and absolutely loved it, so it was definitely something that interested me. I didn’t want to be a teacher, but I did want to travel the world, immerse myself in a new culture, learn a new language, and meet new people.

It turned out to be the best, life-changing decision I’ve ever made.

The best part is you can decide where you want to go and how long you want to go. I ended up in South Korea with a year contract that eventually turned into 3.5 years. The experience, knowledge, and friendships I came back with are invaluable and not something I ever could have gotten if I had stayed in the country I was born in.

The business world is a global world. We can’t keep pretending that being an American is enough anymore. As a professional, even if your organization isn’t global, the employees will be. You will meet people from all different backgrounds and cultures, and you will need to know how to conduct yourself and communicate effectively in ambiguous situations. International experience will open your eyes to a whole new way of going about life.

By going abroad and pushing myself to my limits, I learned a lot about myself and how much I could actually handle. I was given a lot of responsibility in my positions abroad, and from that was able to recognize my personal strengths and discovered my passion for helping and working with people, which in turn, led me to Human Resources.

After your college graduation, if you have no idea where life is taking you and you want to learn more about yourself, as well as the world we live in, consider going abroad. I know it’s scary to leave your comfort zone, but it will not be something you will ever regret. Quality employers will recognize the kind of person you are based on your international experience and will give you a leg up in the competition when you finally do realize what it is you’d like to focus on.

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