Volunteering, Teaching & Working Abroad
Whether you want to go abroad for a few months or indefinitely, use the information below to help you identify short-term and long-term service and work opportunities.
Before pursuing any opportunity, at home or abroad, it is important to consider your motivations and goals. Why do you want to go abroad? What locations appeal to you? How long do you plan to stay? What resources do you have or will you need to support yourself? Are you trying to develop a language or new skills?
The career center works with Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching & Service (CSJ) to provide resources and programs to help you navigate the decision to work or serve abroad. Visit CSJ’s website to learn more about their postgraduate service events and opportunities.
Short-term vs. Long-term
Short-term opportunities are chances to be abroad and engage a new culture. These opportunities may last a few months or a few years (our definition caps it at two). In each case, you are likely motivated by the chance to be in a certain region more than the prospect of finding permanent work in a particular industry.
Long-term working experiences concentrate on building a career. When considering a long-term international career, it is important to define the country in which you wish to work, and to do your research on the hiring practices and recruitment patterns of that industry. Consider the following possibilities for working abroad:
- Working for a U.S. organization that has offices abroad or working for a U.S. organization with primary clients and subsidiaries abroad. Uniworld Online has a directory where you can find the locations of company headquarters and subsidiaries.
- Working for an international organization that has offices in the U.S. To be eligible to work or intern at inter-governmental organizations, you must be a citizen of a member country. In some organizations, such as the UN, the number of opportunities available to citizens of a particular country is proportionate to how much money that country contributes to the organization. Some of the organizations can bypass current U.S. immigration policies, as detailed in the International Organizations Immunities Act of 1947.
- Working for a federal agency or international government agency: The federal government has a number of foreign service opportunities, including State Department’s Foreign Service Officer, the Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service, U.S. Agency for International Development Foreign Service Officer, Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service are among a few of the most well known and popular organizations.
Given that the logistics associated with living abroad (culture, language, food, transportation, cost of living, visa requirements, etc.) can be hard to pin down, use online resources to find out as much as you can so that you have a better idea of what to expect.
- Interstride – A robust career resource to find and apply to jobs in countries around the world as well as explore country specific guides and employment information.
- Expat Exchange – One of the many expatriate organizations devoted to information sharing among people living abroad.
As with any job search, you want to make sure you are prepared with the necessary documents to apply to opportunities, as well as those required to work in a foreign country. Pay close attention to deadlines and also consider language and teaching certification requirements, as they can vary widely.
Resume/CV and Cover Letter
Outside the U.S., “CV” and “resume” are often used interchangeably to describe the same document. In the U.S., a CV describes a document used to apply for academia positions. Tailor your documents for the type of work you’re seeking. You will also want to take into consideration whether you’re applying to a U.S. company with offices abroad, an international company, or a federal agency. This will determine whether your documents need to follow a U.S. format or not. Interstride has country-specific resume samples.
Especially as you consider long-term work opportunities, keep in mind that you will most likely be responsible for obtaining a work permit or visa. The requirements for work permits and visas vary by country and regulations change frequently. Contact the embassy or consulate of a country to learn about the specific requirements for that country. Use the State Department’s list of embassies to check visa requirements. A working holiday visa is worth considering as a means to work in a country for a shorter period of time (typically, six months to one year). This article shares the six countries that U.S. citizens qualify for working holiday visas.
Proof of Vaccination
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, many countries required proof of vaccination to enter their countries. It is important to check with the country to which you are traveling what vaccines are required, versus suggested for travel. The CDC keeps an updated list. Be sure to have a medical professional update your vaccine card prior to leaving on any trip.
While the prospect of having an international opportunity is certainly exciting, there are a few things to keep in mind regarding safety and the legitimacy of the opportunity when applying and committing to organizations. The Office of Global Services (OGS) has a resource for vetting organizations that you can download to collect the necessary information regarding the legitimacy of an opportunity. Students interested in volunteering or interning abroad must comply with the International Travel Policy and have their travel authorized by OGS prior to going abroad.
Georgetown also maintains a membership with International SOS (ISOS), an international emergency medical assistance and security services provider, to manage the health and security risks facing our international travelers and expatriates. Georgetown has access to ISOS’s worldwide network of logistics coordinators, physicians, security professionals, hospitals, ambulances and aviation services, as well as online country guides and travel security resources. Visit the link for more information on how to access this resource.
We always recommend that you check in with your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy once you arrive in the country, so that they know where and how to contact you in an emergency. Before you leave, be sure to register with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) that helps connect travelers with resources in case of emergency.
Connecting with people who have lived and served in your region of interest will help you tremendously. Start with people you know — classmates, family members, family friends, and professors. If you can manage a visit to friends or family in the place you’re interested in, make it count by setting up informational interviews, keeping track of expenses to estimate potential cost of living, and following up on research you’ve been doing. Here are some additional places to find and connect with people outside your personal network.
- Hoya Gateway connects current students to alumni who are eager to share career insights, review resumes, and help you practice for interviews.
- Georgetown Alumni Clubs – For connections abroad, check out your local alumni association to see if an alumni club (with events and contacts) exists for the country in which you’re interested.
- LinkedIn – Visit Georgetown University’s page on LinkedIn to explore the profiles of alumni working abroad.
Handshake, our job and internship database for students and alumni, allows you to customize searches using geographical preferences. Below is just a sample of some of the opportunities available overseas:
Post-Graduate Service and Research Opportunities
- Georgetown’s Center for Research and Fellowships (CRF) helps students interested in applying to merit-based national and international fellowships and scholarships, including the Fulbright.
- Other Fellowships & Awards — These awards do not always require nomination by your home institution, and can offer some wonderful opportunities abroad.
- Post-Graduate Service Organizations (this is not a comprehensive list)
- Princeton in Africa, Latin America, or Asia – Year-long fellowship opportunities with a variety of organizations that work across Africa, Latin America and Asia, pairing students with NGOs, and multilateral organizations in service fellowships.
These databases provide a portal to find opportunities to work, intern, and volunteer internationally.
- Interstride – A robust resource with a job and internship portal that allows you to search by country. Use the country insight tab for a job board, immigration details, networking tips, and more.
- Transitions Abroad – Database of short-term work opportunities, teaching, and volunteer positions.
- Eurojobs.com – Search for opportunities and get tips for working in Europe.
- Idealist – Search worldwide for opportunities and organizations committed to improving the world.
- PH International – Volunteer organization working in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
- Contact Taiwan – Contact Taiwan is a one-stop platform created by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs to engage global talent to work, live, and build a career in Taiwan.
There are numerous organizations that will place you into a country for international work, teaching or volunteer experience. Most often there is a fee, but not until you have confirmed the placement opportunity presented to you. The following are nonprofit placement organizations, and therefore, their fees go to support the program and countries.
International Teaching Organizations
- Central European Teaching Program – Public school teaching in Hungary and Romania.
- Colorado China Council – Not-for-profit, non-political, educational outreach organization that places teachers in universities and colleges in China.
- Council on International Educational Exchange – Offers paid teaching positions in nine countries as well as study abroad programs.
- Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme – Sponsored by the government of Japan, The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, is aimed at promoting grass-roots international exchange between Japan and other nations through teacher placement program between Japan and 40 countries.
- Worldteach – International volunteer teaching placement organization.