If you're a recent grad looking for your first gig out of school, you're probably scouring your city, your state, maybe even the whole country for opportunities. But perhaps you should dream even bigger. Maybe you should consider going abroad to kick off your career.

That's the message of a fascinating recent INSEAD Knowledge post by NexTalent founder Antoine Tirard and Culture Pearl founder Claire Lyell. As we've already covered here on Inc.com, international experience helps more experienced professionals develop a suite of highly valuable skills, but according to Tirard and Lyell heading overseas is a great move for career starters too.

They base this conclusion not only on their own experience, but also on a series of interviews with those who had spent time abroad early in their careers, snippets of which they share in the post. Not everything about immersing yourself in a new culture is pleasant, the interviews reveal.

One interviewee, Gabriel, for example, found his "transition to working life in Wuhan [China] was bumpy. He found it deeply depressing not to be able to communicate in a language he thought he'd mastered." But after eventually setting in and then returning home, Gabriel was able to land a great position on the back of his international experience.

That's not unusual, Tirard and Lyell suggests because a stint living abroad, while often challenging, develops these ten key skills that are highly valuable to employees:

  1. Agility (intellectual, cultural, social and emotional)
  2. Comfort with ambiguity
  3. Confidence
  4. Cultural sensitivity
  5. Curiosity and openness
  6. Global mind-set
  7. Independence, self-reliance
  8. Resilience
  9. Self-awareness
  10. Willingness to take risks

Not only does early international experience set you up with these important skills, but the pair of authors argue it also sets you up for a far more interesting career down the line too. In short, international adventure seems to be addictive (I've certainly found this to be true).

"We see that the more exposure a young person has to travel, difference, risk and challenge, the more likely he or she is to seek more adventure in his or her professional life," they write.

Convinced this might be the right path for you? Now you only need to figure out how to find a gig abroad. Luckily, plenty of guides and resources exist to get you started with your research. And of course there's the ever popular choice of teaching English abroad. (If you're interested in the UK, I did and enjoyed this work program for recent grads. There are similar schemes for Australia and New Zealand.)

Published on: Jul 29, 2016
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