Pros and cons of working abroad in hospitality
As you think about your next career move, you might consider an internship, a new job, or an advanced degree. But there’s another option you shouldn’t overlook: working abroad.
A big advantage of working abroad is that it turns your job into an adventure. During your time off, you’ll have a new city to explore, with entertainment and cuisine that might be completely different from what you’re used to. You can meet coworkers from all over the world who have also left their home countries for a job; you can also meet people who are local to the place where you work and add to your network. If you’ve ever felt bored with your job in your home country, working abroad will give you a change of scenery and a chance to stretch your abilities.
Working abroad is an opportunity to learn a new language and to learn about the country where you’re employed. It also gives you a new perspective on the hospitality industry, as you’ll see how a different hotel serves guests and markets itself. If you only work at properties in the same geographic area, your knowledge of the industry may be limited because you only see the business practices of that particular place. Once you’ve worked abroad, you’ve seen the industry from a different angle and you can bring new ideas to your next workplace.
And experience working abroad signals to future employers that you’re independent, capable enough to move across the world for a job, and able to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures. It gives you something interesting to talk about in any job interview, and it’s easy to bring up whenever you’re asked about a time you stretched your boundaries or took a risk.
However, there are a few difficulties inherent to working abroad. First, while learning about a new culture is an advantage of working in a different country, it can also pose a challenge in a service-oriented industry like hospitality. Hospitality professionals have to be courteous and respectful to guests at all times, so you’ll have to quickly learn any local customs and rules of etiquette and adhere to them in your workplace. For example, some gestures you’re probably used to, like a thumbs-up or passing someone an object with your left hand, are considered rude in certain countries. As an employee in a hotel or resort, you won’t have much leeway to slip up and revert to your usual behavior the way a tourist might.
Also, working abroad entails moving away from your current support system of friends and family. If you’re working in a different time zone, it might not even be convenient to talk to your friends back home during your daytime hours, and you might have to schedule calls early in the morning or late at night. The distance from your support system will force you to befriend new people; if you feel shy about talking to strangers, this could take you well out of your comfort zone.
Another challenge is that the cost of living varies widely between countries, so depending on where you choose to work, your pay could be lower than what you would earn in your home country. That won’t matter during your time abroad, because the low pay will be offset by low living expenses. But if you save a portion of your earnings, you may find that your savings aren’t worth as much once you convert them to dollars or pounds.
To decide whether to work abroad, consider your personality and what you hope to gain from the experience. If you prefer to stay within familiar surroundings, you’ll probably feel uncomfortable working abroad. But if you enjoy exploring new places and meeting new people, working abroad will be fun for you. And if you want to step out of your usual routine and learn to thrive in a new environment, working abroad will help you achieve that.
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