I graduated college with one simple goal in mind: to get the hell out of there. Sure, my four years of university were amazing, but I wasn’t willing to proclaim them as the “best of my life” when there is so much of the world to see! I wanted to do something meaningful and even a bit terrifying: I wanted to work abroad. Despite interest in countries like Portugal or Japan, I ended up working in Sri Lanka.
To learn and grow alongside a developing nation is a remarkable adventure and although there are many challenges, I believe there are even more reasons recent grads should work abroad in developing countries.
Why You Should Look for Jobs in Developing Countries
1. Do it for the Story
Working abroad will singlehandedly silence the deafening “do you know what you’re doing after college?” question. Placing personal growth and worldly experiences aside, informing everyone that you’re venturing so far from the beaten path and headed to a developing nation is the mic drop of postgrad plans. Just be ready to pick that mic back up and answer all your grandparents’ questions.
Once you’re working abroad, you can officially add a standout component to your resume that future employers won’t be able to ignore. In fact, you’ll probably have the most compelling answers to any interview question because you’re going to face the unexpected plenty of times. If anything, it’s a fresh new stamp in the passport and you’ll have an icebreaker for years to come.
2. Meaningful Work in a Meaningful Place with Meaningful People
If you’re reading closely, you may have noticed a recurring word in the section title. This word will summarize the entirety of your time abroad and jobs in developing countries will intensify the meaning of meaningful.
A common misconception about work abroad in developing countries is that the only work available are with NGOs in international development or as a teacher. Although those opportunities are aplenty, you’ll be happy to know that there is work to be done in nearly every discipline. For example, an emerging ecotourism industry has made countries like Costa Rica and Indonesia hotspots for hospitality and tourism jobs.
Wherever you find yourself, you’ll undoubtedly meet the most legendary people. The locals and expats I’ve had the pleasure of working with have inspired new ways of thinking, taught me to find humor in the uncomfortable, and forever changed my life with their kindness. Also, a global network of friends makes finding your next adventure way less intimidating. Just be sure to check out the Meaningful Travel Manifesto as a guideline before you look for jobs in developing countries.
3. Become A Millennial Hero
The term “millennial” has become synonymous with laziness and entitlement. Sure, I enjoy Netflix marathons and might own a selfie stick, but I can also pay my dues, work hard, and begin to make a name for myself. If you’re feeling a bit defiant, a job abroad in a developing country is the perfect way to prove em’ all wrong.
No more lectures about how good we have it; I bet Mom and Dad wouldn’t take bucket showers with big smiles on their face. Your time abroad will impress and inspire as you demonstrate that a desire to travel does not mean an aversion to work.
4. Make Your Instagram Game SO Strong
Jobs in developing countries are an automatic one-up when it comes to your social media game. Going abroad is a tremendous feat and there is nothing wrong with showing off all your amazing new experiences. Additionally, keeping friends and family in the loop after graduation is surprisingly difficult (I’ll call soon, Grandma, promise!).
Seemingly inconsequential, the reality is that much of our lives revolve around social media. This makes Instagram, or other social platforms, a useful tool to tell your unique story and provide glimpses into a country that many of your friends and followers will crave to know more about. Just don’t be afraid to post the hardships, like squatty potties or unexpected insect encounters, as authenticity will make your feed that much more compelling and #real.
5. Discover Your Weekend Warrior
One of the best aspects of working abroad is that even mundane tasks, like commuting or grocery shopping, feels like a tiny adventure. Now just imagine how epic your weekends will be as you navigate a whole new world full of sights to see and things to do. Whether your job is 9 to 5 or a bit more fluid, there will always be time to explore the extraordinary.
Spend a weekend camping at the world’s largest salt flat while working in Bolivia or knock out some world wonders by choosing jobs in Egypt or India. Personally, I dedicated most weekends in Sri Lanka to learn how to surf and I am forever grateful I had the opportunity to accomplish a lifelong goal. Many employers will recognize and that your bucket list will be just as important as your daily to-do list.
6. Cure Your Daily Existential Crisis
Graduating college is a major accomplishment. With your diploma in hand, be prideful as you finally put the days of group projects and late-night library breakdowns far behind you. Just get ready for the oh-my-god-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-and-career floodgates to open and consume your every waking thought…
Although I’m exaggerating (a little), the transition into the “real world” IS overwhelming. It’s easy to feel lost, a bit numb, or even dispassionate after college. Many graduates just want time to decompress and travel despite pressures to quickly begin their careers. So, why not do both?
Rediscover yourself through travel and develop your passions through meaningful work. Escaping everything, including the many comforts of developed countries, may just be the easiest way to feel back on track.
7. In All Seriousness – You’re Here to Work
It’s time to put those textbooks aside and finally start putting that degree to use. Working is half of the bargain and it’s important to always keep that in mind. Plus, it’s a lot harder convincing your parents of your travel plans without the whole “job” thing.
It was this false pretense of falling behind my peers that almost deterred my desire to work abroad. I thought that I would be sacrificing work experience in the pursuit of learning more about myself and the world. The reality is that competitive and challenging jobs exist in every corner of the globe and developing countries are eager for those with the energy and desire to work hard. So, embrace the spreadsheets and early mornings because it actually feels really good to settle into a role and contribute.
8. Two Words: Flip Flops
Whether you call them thongs, plakkies, or slippers, it was a luxury to ignore the socks tucked away in my suitcase and wear the same $5 shoes every day in Sri Lanka. Now, I’m aware that flip flops may not be essential in countries like Nepal or Romania, but I am simply referring to the relaxed and light-hearted workplace culture often found at jobs in developing countries.
While your friends back home are raving about wearing jeans on Fridays, you can wear the same shirt three days a week and no one will bat an eye. Of course, this is contingent on your specific role and it doesn’t mean you won’t have to work any less. I’m just saying it’s easier to roll up your sleeves when you leave your three-piece suit back home.
Check out these hot jobs in developing countries
Now, before you officially toss aside those study habits, consider this your last research assignment. Here’s some helpful starting points for finding a jobs in developing countries:
StepOut Abroad is an amazing resource for corporate and social internships throughout India. This organization assists with everything from the visa process to cultural adaptation with roles in design, animal care, and business development.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to your major too. Working abroad is your chance to go out and do something new! Enjoy a laid back summer as a camp counselor with Nacel American Village Camps or train to be a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State.
Remember, it’s hard to go wrong if you choose a path that aligns with your passions and interest.
The Beginning, Not the End
I chose to view graduation as the start of a new adventure rather than the end of youthful glory. Clearly there are plenty of reasons to work abroad in a developing country, but you must first decide whether you’re willing to go for it (here are six more reasons to convince you). So, as you prepare to enter this “real world” that everyone keeps warning you about, keep in mind that there’s actually a REAL world out there with real and purposeful opportunities.