This sites mission is to ensure that students from diverse economic, educational, ethnic and
social backgrounds are aware, have equal access and take advantage of
the benefits and opportunities afforded through global education
As an American, your most marketable skill in many countries is your fluency in English. Numerous opportunities exist for students and recent graduates, even those without previous experience or training, to teach English conversation in schools or universities. Even programs which prefer some previous experience are often looking for volunteer tutoring experience or coursework in teaching English as a foreign language, and are not necessarily looking only for fully qualified teachers. Volunteer experience can easily be gained here at NC State or in the surrounding area before participation in a program overseas; for example, there are English conversation programs in need of volunteer tutors through the Wake County Literacy Council and Global Speak (an NC State language exchange program). Coursework is available at many universities and private institutes, including a number in North Carolina.
Many resources exist for students looking to work abroad. These links may help you answer questions about options and types of programs.
A work or volunteer experience in another country can be a wonderful way to improve your practical skills, enhance your resume, learn about another culture, meet people from many countries and backgrounds, and see another part of the world. And there are MANY opportunities to work overseas for students and recent graduates. However, there are also some realities that you need to be aware of before beginning your international job search:
It is usually NOT possible simply to enter another country as a tourist and (legally) work, or even volunteer. Most countries have some degree of unemployment and therefore most countries restrict the ability of foreign nationals to work within their borders. Working usually requires that you have a special visa or residence permit, issued by the government of that country, which authorizes you to be legally employed; employers overseas will usually tell you that they can't hire you without a work visa or permit, and governments will tell you that they can't give you a work visa or permit without proof that you have a job. This "Catch-22" is what has given rise to the many programs which exist specifically to help students and recent graduates navigate the bureaucratic obstacles to gaining practical experience overseas.
Most multinational and international corporations which have offices overseas prefer to hire mostly local personnel for those offices. Americans sent to those offices are usually only considered for overseas postings after putting in a minimum amount of time (3-5 years) in the U.S. offices of the company. If your ultimate goal is to work for this kind of company, participating in a practical overseas experience during college or shortly after graduation is probably one of the best investments you can make towards fulfilling that goal, even if it costs you more money than you make during the experience.
Working overseas as a student or recent graduate is unlikely to make you rich. Even if you choose a work experience for pay (as opposed to an internship for academic credit or a volunteer experience), and even if the pay is similar to what you would earn here, you will probably have extra expenses to cover, at least initially (for example, international airfare, program fees, etc.). The long-term benefits of an international work experience, for your personal satisfaction, professional preparation, and resume-building, are likely to be much greater than for a similar experience within the U.S., so think of it as an investement! There are many opportunities which cover your expenses, although you may not make enough for extensive personal travel or savings. Many volunteer or unpaid internship positions cover room and board costs, and sometimes a stipend, for participants. Programs which require placement or participation fees, especially for developing countries, often provide detailed information to help participants fundraise at least some of the fee.
Finding the right experience for you will take time, thought, and effort. Many programs have early deadlines, sometimes as much as one year before the experience begins. Add to that the time to research programs and complete applications, and you will quickly see that 1-2 years in advance is NOT too early to start planning! As a general rule, longer programs and those which are career-related require more advance time than short, casual-work programs; 3-6 months in advance is probably plenty of time to plan for a summer volunteer or casual work program, while a year-long career-related program will usually require you to start researching a year or more in advance.
As long as your expectations of an overseas work opportunity are realistic, you should find it a rewarding and fascinating experience. And remember that there are many opportunities in addition to the few examples listed here! Please note also that most of these programs are open to recent graduates as well as currently enrolled students. Participation in some programs may allow participants to defer student loan repayment during participation (check with specific programs for details)
Start by thinking about your personal goals for a work experience. It may be helpful to jot down some of your thoughts as you consider the following questions.
What do you most want to gain from this experience -- an inexpensive means to spend time overseas, practical experience in your field, or a combination?
Do you want to go to a specific country, or are you flexible? Do you want to work in a big city or in an environment such as a national park or resort area?
Is it important to work in a specific field, or are you willing to do casual work such as waitressing or office work?
Does the work need to be paid, or at least cover your living costs? Are you willing to spend money to participate in a career-related internship?
If you want a paid experience, how much money are you willing to put out for initial expenses (placement fees, airfare, living expenses until you get your first paycheck, etc.)?
When do you want to go (during your undergraduate program, over a summer, after graduation) and for how long?
Once you have started answering some of these basic questions for yourself, you may want to consult some of the general references available in the resource library, or some of the resources listed below, for additional background information on the types of programs available. When you feel you have a good grasp of the basics and have defined the type of experience you are looking for, you will need to start researching specific options.
Researching Your Options
By following the links below, you will find descriptions and contact information for just a sample of the many opportunities available. Additional opportunities and programs can be researched in the Work Abroad section of the Study Abroad Office Resource Area. Once you've gathered basic information about a number of programs/opportunities which look interesting, you will need to start contacting the sponsoring institutions and programs to get specific information about the program costs, pay, expectations, etc. Be prepared to gather information on many different organizations and programs in order to find the one that will work best for you. Feel free to make an appointment with the Assistant Director, to discuss programs and options you are exploring.
A WORD OF CAUTION: This listing is for informational purposes only; inclusion of any given program on this list should not be taken as an endorsement of that program by the NC State Study Abroad Office. Most programs do their best to provide a worthwhile experience, but IT IS UP TO YOU to make sure that the programs you are interested in offer what they claim, and that what they offer is what you want. Before paying a placement fee, signing a contract, or buying a plane ticket, make sure you understand the fine print. Contact the program organizers with any questions, including but not limited to: what are the consequences (financial and otherwise) if you leave the program before the time agreed to? what happens if you are not placed in a position or if your placement is not satisfactory, either to you or to the organization you've been placed with? what support services are provided by the organization once you arrive? There are no "right" answers to these questions; you must make your own decisions about what your criteria are for the program you want. Finally, ASK TO CONTACT FORMER PARTICIPANTS IN THE PROGRAM! Any reputable organization should be able to put you in touch with others who have participated and who will be able to give you an unbiased assessment of the good and bad points of the program.