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As jobs get scarce, alumni consider working abroad

November 21, 2014

Working abroad allows students to apply the skills that they have learned throughout their collegiate career to international work, and UW-River Falls students have the opportunity to study abroad while in school, but how many students consider working abroad after they graduate?

By working abroad, students can not only broaden and gain skills, but can also learn to be independent by navigating a new country and culture.

“I think by having those skills, students can become incredibly marketable upon return when applying for opportunities domestically,” said Assistant Director of Career Services McKenna Pfeiffer.

According to the UWRF Advancement Office, as of July, 359 alumni are living overseas. This number is self-reported.

While the job market continues to become more competitive, students need to have relevant experience that can showcase their transferable skills to the job position they hold or are applying for.

“A great way to showcase resourcefulness, adaptability and independence would be working abroad and having to navigate a new position, a new country and potentially a new language,” Pfeiffer said. “Through that experience, there’s tremendous transferable skills that students can gain.”

Career Services offers students resources to help them with the process of thinking about or applying to working abroad after graduating. Students that are interested in working abroad can utilize career services with assistance with adjusting application materials based on the country to which they are applying.

According to Pfeiffer, the number one online resource for international job search through the university is “Going Global.”

Going Global is a database this is housed through Hire-a-Falcon, and is targeted for students that want to work abroad. The website offers supplemental information through a country guide.

“The country guides give students information targeted at their country of interest,” Pfeiffer said. “It provides insight on cultural standards when interviewing, how are resumes different and main employers.”

In addition to Career Services, Student Life also offers resources to students that are considering working abroad. Each semester Peace Corps information sessions are held in which students can come and learn more about the organization.

Peace Corps was established in 1961 with the mission to promote world peace and friendship. According to peacecorps.gov, over 215,000 people have served since its inception.

Student Life Service Coordinator Amy Lloyd helps to organize the Peace Corps information sessions that are held each semester. The next information session will be February 19, 2015.

“We at UWRF do our best to continue an ongoing partnership with the Peace Corps,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd agrees that joining the Peace Corps is a big commitment that may not be the best fit for all students, but there is a lot that students can gain that they might not realize.

“It’s important for students who are called to do international work to share their talents with people and places,” Lloyd said.

One UWRF student that is considering international work upon graduation is communication studies major Lindsay Pluger.

“I’ve heard about the Peace Corps my entire life, but never thought it would be my passion,” Pluger said. “But when I did more research about what Peace Corps does, I wanted to know more about it and applied.”

By working abroad through organization like Peace Corps, students will be able to help communities utilize resources to better themselves.

“What you’re doing by working abroad, you’re potentially helping people who can’t help themselves, or don’t know how to help themselves,” Pluger said.

For students who are interested in working abroad, there are a few key aspects to keep in mind.

“Plan ahead and do your research,” Pfeiffer said. “Spending time planning ahead so that you can make your materials stand out in the process will help so you’re not up against a tight deadline.”

Working abroad is not the best fit for every student but students have the opportunity to new possibilities of not only bettering themselves, but others as well by working abroad. For students who have interest in working abroad, there are many resources available on campus to help with their decision.