When I was about to graduate from college in the US, I was given loads of advice from friends, family, colleagues, professors, and the occasional old lady crossing the street about what to do after graduation. I think it’s like a right of passage for graduating seniors going out into the real world. Everyone knows that you are 0% sure about what you’re doing in life and casually having mini-existential crises every morning. So you transform into a magnet for future life advice.
Here’s a sampling of the advice I got:
- “Enjoy your time in college while you’re there! Life just sucks afterwards.”
- “Start applying for jobs a semester before you graduate.”
- “Find a good paying job with lots of benefits.”
- “Go visit the Career Center! They’ll fix everything for you.”
- “Just give up hope of ever finding a job or being happy or ever not having debt.”
Good thing for me is that I didn’t follow any of this advice. Classic Millennial, right?
Instead, I somehow found a *barely* paid internship in Frankfurt, Germany and moved there right after graduation to start my life of continously deferring on my student loans. My mom was so proud! After I moved to Germany and started my first big-boy job, I figured out that there’s one piece of advice missing from the ones above.
To all the stressed out students out there, do you and your future self a favor - work abroad after graduation. Don’t get stuck in the domestic 9-5 grind, just yet. Get out there into the world for a bit! Here’s why:
1. Your CV/resume will thank you.
Let’s get this out of the way. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are destined to hop from job to job for the rest of our lives. It’s just a fact of today’s work world and many people see that as a good thing. But that means that we’ve got to keep our CVs/resumes in tip-top shape if we want to keep a steady income to fuel our diets of PSL’s and ramen noodles.
Taking time work abroad (whatever job that may be) is one of the best ways to pad your resume with some good international flare. Recruiters are going to be way more impressed with you when they see that you’ve done some work in another country and what you learned from it.
2. You’ll have a reason to travel every weekend.
This is one of my all-time favorite reasons to work abroad right after graduation. We all know that travel in the US can be expensive AF. By getting your butt abroad and spending some time in Europe, Asia, or any other continent, you can easily hop on over to a new country or city all the time. And if you play your cards right, most of the time it’ll be way cheaper than traveling in the US. HOORAH!
You’re probably only going to be abroad for a short time, so why not hop on over to Paris for a romantic weekend getaway with yourself and a bottle of wine? Or three?
3. You have an excuse to learn a new language.
Sorry, but your two years of Spanish in high school and saying “Gracias” to the waiter at your fav Mexican restaurant doesn’t count as knowing another language. It’s just not going to cut it anymore, people! We live in a world where if you don’t know more than one language, you’re automatically at a disadvantage for many jobs.
Working abroad for some time and being immersed in a whole new culture pretty much forces you to learn a new language. I’ve been living in Germany for about two months now and without even trying to learn German, I can go to Starbucks and order my PSL in German. It’s great!
4. You’re going to be challenged.
Traveling abroad is the most challenging and most rewarding thing in the whole wide world. Period. Except that working abroad is even more challenging and rewarding than just traveling. Never mind that you have to deal with the culture shock of living in a whole new country. Never mind that you have to make entirely new friends to go to Sunday brunch with. Working abroad puts extra challenges on your plate.
You’ll have to figure out how to work with people from entirely different cultural backgrounds. Sometimes you’ll get so frustrated just because you don’t understand how to interact with your coworkers. I’ve had plenty of those experiences and the scars to prove it. It’s the most difficult thing in the world, but you’re going to learn way more about working with other people than in a job back at home. Trust me.
When I was still in university in the US (*sigh*), I always knew that I would eventually live abroad. I majored in International Relations, for crying out loud. I knew that I didn’t want to get stuck in the US before I experienced the world. And that was even before Trump came along!
But what I didn’t know is that working abroad is one of the best and the hardest things you can do in life. You’ll be sad, homesick, frustrated, and an all-around mess somedays. But you’ll also be inspired, fulfilled, educated, and a beautiful mess all the time.