5 Ways to Immerse Yourself Globally - for Professionals!

by Stacy Moreno

You want international experience, you want to see the world, make an impact on others, utilizing those skills you’ve been working so hard to acquire and continue to grow professionally…in YOUR field of expertise!  But “Where do I begin” and “Is it even possible”?  Questions like these may come across your mind often and others in your circle of friends and family discredit the idea as risky now that you are in the workforce and no longer a student.  But listen up!  Yes, it IS possible!  And here are 5 ways to get started NOW, and it’s easy to do!

Volunteering in Asia.
Volunteering in Asia. Photo by Ian Delgado

1. Join your local Sister Cities Program for Diversity and Professional Skills Enrichment

Sister Cities International’s tagline is “Think Globally, Thrive Locally”. It is an organization birthed in the Eisenhower era, with the goal to connect people and communities across the globe.  Through the city to city model, residents and communities build relationships across the globe based on mutual respect, education, community building and through the lifelong friendships that are nurtured through their programs.  Teachers, engineers, artists, business owners, nonprofit leaders, health care workers, fundraisers, graphic designers, journalists…there is no end to the capacity that a sister cities program can take advantage of your refined skills.  Varied professional skills are needed for successful interrelations with global communities as delegates will visit locally, or you may even get the chance to represent your community on global soil!  This is a great opportunity if you want to globalize your network, yet not make huge moves and are not ready to quite your day job!  Your work here MAY even lead to international opportunities in the future.  Find your local program and get engaged now!

2. Short to Long Term International Relief and Volunteer Opportunities Have Meaning!

International relief organizations go all over the globe, and focus more on providing programs and support to those greatly affected by poverty and trauma.  Consider taking your two week annual leave and go on a global project that is organized by a well-known national and international nonprofit, or contact your local churches as many organize their own mission trips.  Find one that suits your interest and professional skills!  

Samaritan’s Purse has been providing international relief since 1970, through 7 different programs, including International jobs as well as Internships.  Cross Cultural Solutions also provides meaningful short term volunteer and international internship opportunities abroad.   Want to think way outside the box?  Not only can you go abroad by yourself but consider a group, or FAMILY opportunity!

3. International Internships can Open Many Doors to the Eager Professional

The desire to go abroad and NOT teach English is understandable.  Many organizations are designed not only for the student travelers or English teachers.  More demands from professionals mean more resources to go abroad!  We did a good job, our voices were heard!  Once again, the sky is the limit on the opportunities that exist across all spectrums of professions; here are a few ideas to get you thinking:  

  • GlobalEd Programs has been one great resource as they offer stellar personalized program development by their Executive Team, and offer diverse internship opportunities in Spain, England, China and France.   Another unique nugget of gold is in person staff support for their Sevilla program as GlobalEd Programs calls Sevilla home!   
  • Child Family Health International (CFHI) offers amazing opportunities in global health education, and community empowerment throughout South America, India, Mexico and Africa.   They offer webinars where you can learn more about their programs and chat live with their team. 
  • Join a listserv for Education Abroad Professionals and you will come across many opportunities to go abroad, intern, work/study and even job announcements!  One amazing listserv is SECUSS-L.    It is a free, electronic forum which is managed by the University at Buffalo.

4. International Fellowships for Mid-Level Career Professionals Exist…and Paid!

With 5 to 15 years of work experience under your belt, you are a great candidate for fellowships! Some are free, except your travel costs, or they may cost you a small stipend, but the benefits outweigh the expense.  Surprisingly, many Fellowships provide monthly stipends, which are enough to live comfortably if you get accepted.  To begin, Cultural Vistas offers a varied amount of Fellowships, all diverse in location, such as Germany and Russia, and more.  The fellowships are for various fields of expertise and they have a comprehensive website, so you will easily find all the information you need.

The International Affairs Fellowship in Japan will be a perfect fit for those interested in Foreign Relations.  This is an International Affairs Fellowship, founded less than a decade ago by Hitachi, Ltd. Fellows are chosen from a diverse background, including from academia, business, government, media, NGOs, and think tanks.  Their stipend in YEN will offer great opportunities to live and experience Japan in your months there.  

The Australian Government sponsors the Australia Awards Endeavour Fellowship.  This program is developed to provide an opportunity to get paid to engage in professional development anywhere from 1-4 months.  The application does require approval from your current employer and an essay on how you will continue to enhance cross cultural relations once you are home.

Another Fellowship is short term (2-6 weeks) and geared to those in the human services field.  The Council of International Fellowship was founded in 1960 and now encompasses programs across The Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceana.  What is unique is that their programs are developed by the local fellows, who voluntarily develop programs in their host countries that include host family stays.  The programs change annually, and you can apply for a fellowship every 3 years. 

5. Why Wait…Create Your Own Opportunity!

Tired of seeing opportunities geared to the student or in a profession that is not quite the best fit for you?  There is no reason why you can’t let creativity, your network, and social media come to your aid as you take on the task of creating a unique opportunity, on your own terms, in your own budget, and where you want to go!  It’s time to practice your elevator speech, and refine exactly WHAT it is you want to learn, and WHERE you feel you will get this opportunity.  Now, develop your WHY speech and get ready to sell your pitch!  Use the internet to find people who are in your field or live in the country and city of your desire.  Get to know them first; don’t start your conversations with what you want from them.  Look at the Universities in those cities and try to connect to study abroad staff, or faculty in a department that closes matches your profession.   Ask for opportunities to do short term volunteer or unpaid internships and sell your WHAT, WHY, and WHERE, but then you need to think of HOW you will use this experience once you come home.  Can you create a new relationship of exchange?  Can you possibly host them on US soil in the future?

International opportunities are at your fingertips and at the click of the mouse.  Once you are in the mindset that you are committed to going abroad, and you find your first opportunity, you will be amazed at all the other opportunities that exist!  You are knowledgeable, skilled, and have a gift and a talent in what you do and dedicate your life to.  It WILL be an amazing opportunity for you to Go Global and be that International Global Professional that you are yearning to become…and already are!