Does the idea of working abroad seem appealing to you? The opportunity to travel to exotic places, visit global attractions, experience different cultures, and eat delicious foods are the highlights. However, getting started in an international career requires a lot of work, time, and energy. 

Jobs overseas span across industries to include government, business, law, tourism/hospitality, education, non-profit, and public health. In addition to deciding the sector you would like to enter, spend some time thinking about which country or region of the world you would like to make your destination. The visa requirements, resume format, interview process, and workplace culture will vary from country to country so do your research.

Skills

The skills you need depend greatly on your particular career choice. Here are a few skills that apply to most international positions.
  • Communication (written and oral)
  • Foreign language proficiency
  • Cultural awareness/sensitivity
  • Knowledge of global events
  • Adaptability
  • Resilience
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative problem solving

Degrees and Certifications

Degree Programs and Certificates

How to Get Started

6 steps to get your international career started
  1. Determine if you want to work abroad short-term or long-term, or if you would be just as fulfilled working for an international organization domestically.
  2. Develop proficiency in a foreign language. Although speaking another language is not always required to work internationally, it can make you more competitive for jobs and internships.
  3. Create an account on Passport Careers using your Mason email address and the Registration Key: gmuniver. This tool provides global career webinars, a job database, and cultural etiquette tips for over 75 countries.
  4. Seek out opportunities to engage with people from different cultures. You can gain great exposure right here at Mason by getting involved with Office of International Programs and Services or Office of Diversity Inclusion and Multicultural Education events.  
  5. Consider completing the Global Engagement Certificate.
  6. Increase your knowledge of global issues by following international news outlets such as the BBC and Al Jazeera.

Resources

Research, get experience, and get connected to contacts working internationally

Industry Research

Experiential Learning
  • Get involved in an International/multicultural student organization such as the Indian Student Association or French Club to build your intercultural communication skills, cultural sensitivity and global awareness.  
  • Volunteer with international or humanitarian rights organizations that would allow you to learn more about the field.
  • Participate in Take a Patriot to Work, a job shadowing program offered each fall and spring semester.
  • International Abroad Experiences

    Study or intern abroad through Mason's Center for Global Education. The best way to develop global competency and language skills is to immerse yourself in another country through a semester or year-long program that involves a homestay or independent travel. Study abroad programs outside of western Europe are the most marketable.

Job Search

  • On HireMason conduct an advanced search for jobs by industry: Non-Profit, Government and Human Services

Professional Associations

Job Sectors

Federal Government

The U.S. Federal Government represents U.S. interests abroad, protects the environment, conducts the global war on terrorism, and administers foreign aid programs. Although the State Department (Foreign Service Officer), Peace Corps and military are obvious choices, many other federal agencies have an international affairs division too.

Human Rights

Those who work in international human rights focus on protecting the fundamental rights of all people. Human rights organizations provide direct service, advocate, develop policies, and conduct research. Examples of careers within international human rights include: media specialists, grant writers, educators, financial analysts, journalists, researchers, healthcare professionals, and grassroots/community organizers.

Humanitarian Aid and Relief

Humanitarian aid and relief work is done by government, non-government organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations that address health, social, and environmental conditions that plague the global poor. Job titles include administrators, fundraisers, grant writers, program organizers, researchers, policy analysts and others.

International Business

The majority of international careers in business are related to marketing, accounting/finance, sales, operations and consulting. Opportunities exist in multinational corporations, financial institutions, joint ventures, consulting agencies, manufacturers, etc. Many jobs are found here in the U.S. with frequent foreign travel once at a senior level.

International Development

Those who work in international development come from a variety of educational backgrounds with the common goal of improving economies internationally. International development has a high focus on economics and almost always requires a Master's degree to break into the field.

International Law

Those interested in global issues such as international business and human rights may find international law to be a good fit. There are two tracks to consider when thinking about a career in international law; public international law for those interested in international agreements made by governments; and private international law for those more interested in international business, human rights, the economy and the environment.

Education (Teaching English)

English teachers working abroad are responsible for developing lesson plans, instructing classes, and evaluating students. For most jobs, a U.S. teaching license or teaching experience is not required. Most positions; however, do require knowledge of the country's language and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification.


Global Health

The field of global health aspires to achieve equity in health for all people worldwide. Using education, research, and program implementation, public health professionals are catalysts for disease prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion, particularly in developing countries.

Research/Think Tanks

Many research organizations and think tanks focus on finding long term solutions related to foreign policy and international issues. In addition to research, they may publish academic papers, organize professional conferences, serve on government task forces and share their expert testimony before Congressional committees. Position titles include: Program Manager, Research Assistant and Research Associate.

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