If impending employment is giving your free spirit a panic attack, fear not. How about indulging your wanderlust with a work/study program abroad? Grad school overseas offers more than preparation for a career--you can learn a new language, acquire a well-traveled polish and get to know people with intriguing accents.
Declare your independence: Study abroad
When you earned your bachelor's degree, you probably spent a lot of time in classrooms and logged numerous hours completing required courses. If you get your master's degree in the U.S., you can expect more of the same--most master's programs here follow this model. Overseas, however, it is more common to pursue a research master's, which unlike the "taught" master's involves independently working on research projects and very little time in the classroom. If you'd rather learn independently than attend lectures, the research master's might be the program for you.
Another advantage of overseas grad school programs is that you may be able to finish sooner--as quickly as one year depending on the country and subject. It is likely to cost less than a comparable degree in the U.S. as well. How is this possible? American higher education is quite expensive compared to other countries. In fact, some well-regarded institutions charge almost nothing--for example, the Ecole Normale Superior de Paris is considered one of the world's top universities by the QS World University Rankings 2014/2015, and yet tuition for its international graduate programs is less than most American students' beer budgets--190 Euros (about $300) a year!
Pick me, pick me! Programs for overseas internships and employment
Study abroad internships are available in many academic areas of interest and may be the easiest way to find work in the more competitive areas such as the arts, journalism and marketing. Several fields especially lend themselves to international employment and travel, according to the University of California Career Center:
- Translation and interpretation
- Tourism and hospitality
Teaching English as a foreign language overseas is a popular way for American students and grads to earn a living while traveling. For example, those who speak French or Spanish (even just a little) can apply to be one of the 1000-1500 Americans who get paid to teach for six-to-nine months all over France or Spain. You could also apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and get paid to teach just about anywhere in the world. Asia, too, has a great need for teachers of English, so if you have a yen to visit Japan, you'll be happily welcomed.
Translation and interpretation
Globalization means fast growth and high demand for these specialists. Interpreters deal with spoken words, translators with written words. Interpreting and translation is needed in many industries, from medical to legal to literary, and internships (both paid and unpaid) are widely available in areas with particularly high demand for language services, such as court or medical interpreting. Escort interpreting involves guiding U.S. visitors abroad or foreign visitors in the United States and helping them communicate during their travels. Frequent travel--often for days or weeks at a time--is the norm. Of course, that's the allure of the job, right?
Tourism and hospitality
Tourism and hospitality worldwide is a huge industry. Grads studying tourism and hospitality can find a wealth of international opportunity. For example, if you're interested in going to South Africa, you could find yourself helping a local tourism agency market South Africa as a destination or snagging a general hotel management internship, where you would rotate through departments of a 5-star hotel in Cape Town. The world is crawling with internships anywhere people care to visit.
The U.S. government operates worldwide, and there are many opportunities to work abroad in areas like intelligence, foreign policy, economics, diplomacy, technology/engineering, translation and research. The U.S. State Department offers careers and internships in foreign affairs. Imagine yourself hanging out with the likes of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or CIA Director General Petraeus? The Master of International Affairs, Master of Foreign Policy and Master of Foreign Service are all programs that could get you there.
Closely related are jobs for wonks--Huffington Post and Public Knowledge devotees with a bachelor's or master's in law, economics, finance, public policy, international relations, political science or information systems. You'd use your fantastic writing skills, your aptitude for research, and your freakishly awesome store of U.N. trivia to write research papers. What would you research? Think tanks based in the U.S. or worldwide look at international issues such as development, world peace, global poverty and arms control. For aspiring movers and shakers who don't want to let grass grow under their feet, it's a perfect fit.
International business and banking are tough fields to get into, because many grads want to travel and also earn a lot of money. MBA's and other master's degrees, internships, or starting with a U.S.-based international company could help you join the ranks of well-traveled high-earners. Those studying economics, finance, accounting, business management, operations, marketing, communications or logistics could launch themselves just about anywhere in the world. Every country has its own business approach and business culture, and it may be unlike anything you learned or expected. That means in addition to your phenomenal business acumen, you'll need to bring an open mind.
What about the money?
Salary for these jobs is hard to gauge because pay depends greatly on a number of factors including location, education and more. Another consideration is how far a given salary goes in the country you choose--cost of living is as important as what you're paid. Exchange rates may also be a factor if you get paid in one country's currency but live in another. Taxation complicates things even more. For a better idea of how you fare financially in a particular country, try the calculators featured on sites like Xpatulator.com, which provides cost of living index information and calculates what you must earn to compensate for differences in cost of living, hardship and exchange rates.
"QS World University Rankings 2014/15," QS Top Universities, 2015, http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/2014#sorting=rank+region=140+country=158+faculty=+stars=false+search=