Katie Fassbinder is a featured writer and works for CISabroad as a Program Coordinator. Katie grew up in the Midwest and studied political science and geography at the University of Iowa. After studying abroad in Iceland and India during her undergrad, she fell in love with getting acquainted to new places, sights, and smells. Katie taught in Istanbul, Turkey for two years before joining the Peace Corps where she lived and served in Northwestern China. Her adventures have taken her to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
One of the harshest realities I faced when I had finished college was the most obvious question, “What do I do next?” I graduated with two bachelor’s degrees in humanities fields, which both left me with very few options for high paying careers. I knew two things: 1. I needed to build up some real world hard skills, and 2. I wanted to go abroad again. My study abroad experience was exactly like everyone else’s I knew – life changing. I spent two semesters in Iceland, and six months later left for a winter short-term program in India. I wanted to keep traveling.
Instead, I had some debt to pay off. So, I went back to my parent’s house in Iowa and saved some money. When I got enough funds saved up to be able to afford a plane ticket, I got a TEFL certificate online and booked a ticket to Turkey to teach English. Two years later, I joined the Peace Corps. After deciding on a career in international education and spending years researching “my next adventure”, here are my tips to get you overseas again. Consider building some hard (or transferable skills) in one of the following opportunities:
1. Teach English abroad – I know this is talked about a lot, but how do you get started? Schools in many countries are looking for native English speakers to assist in classrooms. Don’t have a certificate? Consider a CELTA course. Don’t have the funds for a CELTA? Get an online TEFL certificate. China is an easy place right now to find work if you are a recent graduate. Look at Dave’s ESL Cafe for job opportunities and requirements before you get certified, in case you don’t need it. Also, check out the JET program in Japan, or jobs in Spain through the Ministry of Education. Not all of these will pay amazing salaries, but they will get you started out.
2. Work Overseas – Don’t want to teach English? Look for a job overseas in your field. Here is a list of search engines for overseas jobs from the CISabroad alumni web page. If you have a degree in a STEM field, Business, Accounting, or medical field, chances are you will have some decent luck. If you have a job currently, ask them if they have any travel opportunities or bonuses. Consider checking the websites for your favorite international NGOs to see if they have any international openings as well.
3. Go to Graduate School – This also is not a paid gig. However, there are loads of schools in Germany and other countries in Europe and elsewhere that are considered “tuition free”, even for US students. That doesn’t mean you can live there without any money. In many cases, you may need to show that you can provide for your own cost of living. However, there are many schools that your financial aid can now be used towards if you do find a program you are interested in! Read more about advantages and disadvantages of grad school overseas and start looking for programs. Here are the top graduate schools by country to get you started.
4. Work and Travel Visas – Also known as working holiday visas, US passport holders with a BA, usually ages 18-30 can apply for a work and travel visa in Australia, Singapore, France, or New Zealand. Many of the jobs advertised online are in tourism or food services, but if you have a degree and some experience in another field, it would certainly be something to look into doing down under!
5. BUNAC – Australia and New Zealand aren’t the only places to apply for a work visa. Ireland and Canada are within reach as well. If you are looking for a paid gig, BUNAC can help you furnish an affordable work visa. If you are looking for internships or volunteering, see below.
6. Au Pair – Do you like working with children? Are you interested in learning another language? If yes and yes, and you don’t mind a few household chores and errands, consider helping around the house in exchange for room and board overseas. Check out https://www.aupairworld.com/en or https://www.aupair.com/ to get started.
7. WWOOF – Prefer to be outdoors? Interested in travel, volunteering, and don’t mind getting your hands dirty? Look into WWOOFing. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Check out https://www.wwoof.net/ for more information and to find a farm. You may not make any money, but you can expect to earn your keep and enjoy some good food and good company. Alternative sites like Help Exchange or Workaway are out there too.
8. Apply for a Fulbright, Critical Language Scholarship, or Boren Fellowship – Along with a graduate degree, applying for funding to further your education overseas is a great way to relive your study abroad! Fulbright offers different types of grants for teaching, language learning, studying for a higher degree or towards a degree program. Note that in some cases, you may have to apply before you graduate or during graduate school.
9. Join the Peace Corps – I say this knowing full well that the Peace Corps will not pay you to travel. But, if you have the dedication to giving back to a community, and are looking for a new overseas commitment to dedicate your skillset and time to, consider applying here today. Peace Corps volunteers get a small stipend, housing, health insurance, loan deferment, and a readjustment allowance at the end. It’s not always easy, but it’s the “toughest job you’ll ever love”. You can also get a Master’s degree while you do complete your service through Master’s International. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, or talk with a recruiter at your school!
10. Go Freelance – People sometimes shrug at the possibility of writing, editing, taking photographs, or building websites for a living. With a strong internet connection and some initiative, most of what you can do in an everyday office can be done remotely. Loads of small businesses overseas are always looking for editing, translating, transcribing help, and if you have skills or experience as a photographer or in web or graphic design, you may want to consider relocating your office. Search Thomson Reuters for more guided help or idealist.org for jobs. Other ways to get into these professionals are to ask around or look around once in country. Most of the friends I have overseas who got employed in travel writing, editing, and web design started out with limited educational background in these fields working as ESL teachers. When they finally secured enough work freelancing, they were able to keep themselves afloat with just that. It may take a little time to build up your resume and/or portfolio though. Check out Upwork for smaller jobs and get going!
11. House Sit your way around the world – You may not be able to gain hard skills, but if your are just looking for a small gig somewhere new, considering taking care of pets and looking after a house. Browse Nomador or House Carers to register and find a house.
12. Tourism Industry – Consider a profession doing something you’re already passionate about – travel! Become a tour operator, tour guide, or group leader. Browse sites like Indo China for opportunities. Like cycling? Lead a cycle tour and do it professionally. There are whale watching tours, history tours, backpacking tours, and more. Do you speak another language? Check out opportunities to guide and get some use out of your skills! There are loads of summer opportunities leading high school and middle school students on travel programs through Global Leadership Adventures, Where There Be Dragons, The Experiment in International Living, Rustic Pathways, and Putney Student Travel. Alternatively, check out some opportunities all over the US here.
13. Cruise Ship Staff – Like the water? Consider a gig as on a cruise ship or yacht crew. Browse here for some jobs that will allow to work while circumnavigating the globe, and look online for major cruise lines for openings. If you are looking for smaller boats and opportunities, check out Desperate Sailors.
14. Flight Attendant or Pilot – Upon graduation, you should know if you are qualified to become a pilot, but just in case you wanted to trade in your major, consider going back for a postgraduate degree in Aviation. For those of who studied humanities and refuse to get our pilot license, consider flight attendant training programs. American Airlines has a program in Dallas, and here’s an inside look at Delta. Here are some basic requirements for the modern flight attendant. Got language skills? Even better!
15. Intern (Abroad) – If you have the funds and are looking for some work or intern experience overseas, consider doing an intern abroad program. A lot of these can offer credit towards a degree, but no pay. Visas for paid workers in certain countries may take years to obtain and have lots of requirements. Check out CISabroad’s internship opportunities for the support you need and the job you’ll love!
There are loads more positions and opportunities working as hostel staff, tutoring children, selling things on eBay or Etsy, yoga teacher training programs, selling timeshares, blogging, or applying to be a Foreign Service Officer. It may take a little bit of independent research, but for those seeking adventure out there, I hope this list will get you started.
Are you a CISabroad alumni interested in networking? Connect with us! (We’ve been there too.)