To many, taking the leap to gain international work experience is the ultimate personal and professional challenge. How will you handle the language barrier? Will you be able to adapt to a whole new culture? Would you miss your friends and family too much? Anxieties such as these are only natural, but we’re here to reassure you that the benefits of working abroad outweigh the negatives by a long shot. And it’s no longer an experience reserved only for the corporate highflyers of this world; if you’re keen on indulging your wanderlust, there are plenty of possibilities. You could ask your current company to transfer you to an international branch, turn to your network, use an agency, or work with a specialist recruiter like GR4. If you’re still wondering whether gaining international work experience is the right choice for you, let’s run through some of the concrete benefits you can expect to experience from taking your talents to pastures new.
You’ll get out of your comfort zone
Our comfort zone is the psychological boundary we create to keep ourselves safe. It includes everything we know and understand, and offers us a sense of peace of mind and control. We all know someone who’s stayed in a job they hate for far too long, simply because the thought of moving on is too overwhelming. Nevertheless, we tend to forget that struggle and discomfort are where growth happens. Although the thought of leaving it all behind may be terrifying, we can almost guarantee that as soon as you step on that plane you’ll feel totally exhilarated. Plus, after facing such an enormous challenge, other difficulties you’re faced with in life will seem like a piece of cake.
You’ll learn a new language
There aren’t many things more impressive than being able to speak a second language. It’s highly prized by employers, and will improve your memory, creativity and problem-solving skills. It’s proven that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it, and there’s no better way to do that than living and working abroad. Our top tip is to familiarise yourself with the basics before you leave, and once you arrive, use your new language skills whenever and wherever you can, even if that means making mistakes. Make it clear to new friends and colleagues that you’d like to converse with them in their native language wherever possible, which will avoid them automatically switching to English to accommodate you. You might feel awkward at first, but struggle is growth!
You’ll improve your job prospects
Most employers are looking for a candidate who isn’t afraid of new challenges, is committed to self-improvement, and possesses a growth mindset. There’s no better way to demonstrate that you have all these qualities than being able to list international work experience on your CV. Additionally, employers will jump at the chance to hire someone who has knowledge of their sector on an international level, and the potential networking opportunities that come with it.
You’ll increase your resourcefulness and resilience
Living and working internationally is much more challenging than your day-to-day struggles at home. You’ll have to navigate all the hard stuff on your own, such as visas, licenses, insurance, banking, official documents… we could go on. On top of all that, you’ll have to do it in an unfamiliar country whilst dealing with a language barrier. However, we can also guarantee that the sense of personal achievement you’ll feel from navigating all of this is unparalleled. Once you’re back, your ability to adapt and overcome challenges will be off the charts. Replying to that snarky email off Brenda from accounts? No problem! Setting up that new flatpack wardrobe by yourself? Child’s play!
You’ll boost your cultural sensitivity
The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines cultural sensitivity as an “awareness and appreciation of the values, norms, and beliefs characteristic of a cultural, ethnic, racial, or other group that is not one’s own, accompanies by a willingness to adapt one’s own behaviour accordingly.” In an increasingly diverse and globalised workforce, sensibility to different cultures is incredibly important. One of the many benefits of working abroad is that you’re totally immersed in an unfamiliar culture, and working and socialising with people you’d never normally meet. This will boost your ability to recognise and respect diversity in your work and personal life upon your return, and will hopefully give you the confidence to advocate for others if you encounter discrimination and prejudice.
You could make good money
If you’re fed up with average wages and the ever-increasing cost of living here in the UK, working abroad could be the answer. Due to labour shortages in a number of industries, plenty of employers are willing to shell out to snag the top talent. Within the product management sector, for example, salaries at European startups and established tech ventures have been steadily creeping up for a while now, while the cost of living in cities such as Berlin remains far lower than major UK cities like London. This means that working abroad, even for a year or so, can be an excellent opportunity to boost your savings.
In the short time we have available here, it’s not really possible to sum up all the benefits of working abroad. In addition to those we’ve already mentioned, you’ll make friends for life, have plenty of adventures, and return with enough entertaining stories to dine out on for a fair few years. So, if you could yourself amongst the 62% of UK workers would jump at the chance to gain international work experience, the only question is: what’s stopping you?
Are you a tech professional ready for a new challenge?
At GR4, we’ve plenty of opportunities within Europe’s thriving startup scene. You can search all our positions here, or get in touch with a member of our specialist team for a confidential discussion.
Considering making the move to Berlin for work? Download a copy of our comprehensive relocation guide here.