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International Careers

Enda Goodwin

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Field Agent

Field Agent

Living and working in a country and culture other than your own can be highly stressful and requires flexibility, adaptability, perseverance and patience. This is compounded when the language is also different from your native tongue. Americans, in particular, are rarely exposed to other countries and often experience a great deal of culture shock when living and working abroad. Don't underestimate the level of preparation needed to thoroughly understand the country and culture you will be entering and to develop language skills.

Types of Work

As a generalization, there are five types of work available outside your own country:

  • Jobs in your own government foreign service or in a multi-national Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) (e.g.: UN, USAID, World Bank).
  • Employment through a multinational corporation.
  • Teaching your native language.
  • Volunteer or low-paid social aid work or internships.
  • Jobs in occupations of which there is a shortage in the other country.

The more valuable the skills you have, the more likely you are to get a job in any of these capacities. Even non-profit organizations are often looking for people with expertise in computing, health care, finance/economics, small business development and other high-demand professions.

Foreign Service jobs typically have specific examination or certification requirements and you should investigate those with your own government.

Most Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) these days require either a Masters Degree or the high-demand skills mentioned above. They almost always require overseas experience, thus setting up a frustrating "chicken and egg" situation for individuals seeking international employment and experience. Many people begin by seeking unpaid international internships and volunteer opportunities in order to gain experience living and working in their target country.

In the business world, you can, of course, apply directly for international jobs for which you are qualified. And, as in any job search, networking is the key. You may find it difficult to intially get your foot in the door if you lack experience working in your target company. You may want to explore working in a multi-national corporation located in your own country. Then, network within your organization to obtain a subsequent transfer to another country. 

Additional resources



  • Transitions Abroad covers advice and information for those wanting to work, study, live or travel abroad, mostly from a U.S. perspective.
  • The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas is a highly recommended guide for Canadians and  Americans. It contains detailed information about countries, international organizations and companies providing advice about working outside your home country. Available in print or through an online download for a fee.
  • Easy Expat provides practical information for European, Australian and US Expatriates concerning careers & jobs, relocation, taxes, accommodations, healthcare, international schools, childcare, and more.
  • Going Global provides country-specific career and employment information, including world-wide internship and job postings, H1B employer listings, corporate profiles and career resources for 30 countries. Also see the full library of GoingGlobal articles.
  • WorkandLiveAbroad.com: Offers information to anyone wanting to work in a country other than their country of birth. Information includes country guides, immigration laws, legal advice, articles on work in various countries, job listings and more.
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