It's being called the ultimate outsourcing: Americans looking for jobs overseas. With IBM's recent announcement of Project Match -- in which the company actively encourages employees to take their pink slips and apply for jobs in China, India and Brazil -- more companies are sure to follow suit.
Some people are outraged. Some are scared. Others who understand the value are supportive. To be sure, today's current economic climate is a serious force to be reckoned with. But rather than curse the storm clouds overhead, American workers would be well-advised to see this challenging moment as an opportunity to reap the rewards that others have for decades: By looking beyond their own borders to gain valuable experience overseas.
Make no mistake about it: American intellectual capital is still considered the best in the world, which is why IBM and other companies are willing to incur the expense of sending their people overseas. Those that accept will be rewarded with more than just a roof over their head and a weekly paycheck. The extraordinary personal and professional growth that takes place when living in a foreign culture can be cashed in on future career opportunities -- like when the U.S. economy rebounds and companies need employees who can operate effectively in the international marketplace. When that happy day finally comes, those who have proven that they know how to work across cultures will be prized commodities.
And working abroad does not only mean working for American companies. There are hundreds of large, foreign companies that offer tremendous opportunities. This role reversal may seem scary, but it reflects the future of global commerce. Now is not the time to be afraid of the global marketplace but to embrace it.
Yet picking up and moving yourself and your family to a strange new land is a daunting proposition. Americans must be able to adapt to succeed and, with a bit of caution and a lot of research, many will take the deep dive.
And yes, you can do it even if you're married -- I was -- and have children. And trust me, you'll be doing your children a favor: by the time they enter the workforce, a global mindset will be expected.
Last but certainly not least, living overseas can be fun, interesting and exciting.
So if your employer offers you the opportunity to work abroad, be it as part of a promotion or an "or else" proposition, think twice before you say "no." Not only might it be the best offer you're going to get -- it's probably a whole lot better an offer than you think it is. And who knows? It just might be the best career move you ever made.