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Taking an assignment abroad

The arrivals and departures board at Sydney Domestic Airport on June 27, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.
The arrivals and departures board at Sydney Domestic Airport on June 27, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.
Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images

What would you say if your organization offered you the opportunity to go abroad? Rather it be a 3-month or 3-year assignment, make sure you fully understand all of the following areas before you go:

  • Assignment: Do you know what your assignment will entail when you get to the new country? We are all aware that a title does not necessarily denote job duties. This can also be the case within another workplace and country. Therefore, before you go, make sure you understand what type of job you will be doing. Remember that a management position in one country may not necessarily have the same connotations as a management position in another country!
  • Compensation: Know how much you will be earning and how this money will be coming to you. Also, remember to do research about the local cost of living. As lifestyle can mean different things across cultures, be aware that you may not be able to do the same things as in your home country…but isn't that what being in a different country is all about?
  • Family & Friend Support: Married…Single…Children…Pets… Whatever your situation, there are multiple factors to consider for each one. You will need the support of your family and friends because they will be the ones to provide those encouraging words when you experience culture shock. They can also remind you of why you took the assignment in the first place.
  • Cultural Knowledge: What do you know about where you are going? Get a primer as soon as possible. If you are going abroad, learn a few greetings and familiarize yourself with the local culture. Many companies bring in country experts and coaches to assist with the transition. Take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Self-Knowledge: With anything, it is important to know about your stressors and how to deal with them. When you go abroad, there are many things that will be different and sometimes challenging. Try to develop a familiar routine to help cope with these situations. Perhaps it’s a stash of your favorite candy, watching your favorite television show, or doing yoga. Be aware of how you are feeling and find a coping mechanism.

What a great time to take an assignment abroad. Not only will you be boosting your resume, but you will also be helping your organization by coming back with a whole new perspective to share with others!

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