Have you ever wanted to start your own non-profit or run a successful organization? Or perhaps working as a diplomat or civil servant is more your style. Whatever your specific interest, getting international jobs in public administration or government is one of the best ways to refine your cultural understanding and leadership skills. The ability to work in a multicultural workplace is essential in this field, so working abroad will give you a leg up with future employers and funders. With international work experience thanks to government jobs abroad on your resume, you’ll make our international monarch— Queen Bey— proud and “Run the World” in no time!
Why Work in Government Abroad
After you graduate—either from undergraduate or a master's program—it can often be difficult to find a job in your field. Fortunately, the job market is much larger when you broaden your horizons to include other countries. When working abroad, you bring to your position language skills and a cultural perspective that might otherwise be taken for granted back home, so you might land more competitive jobs abroad than you would without traveling.
If you’ve studied a second language, but haven’t quite gotten over the hump of becoming fluent, you could use working abroad as an opportunity to really master your language skills. Being bilingual is a big bonus in public administration and government work, so leveraging second language opportunities is one important consideration when scoping out your options.
Not only do you enter a world of possibilities when you direct your job search in public administration abroad, but you increase your future job options by getting the international experience under your belt. When an employer has to choose between you and another candidate, you’ll stand out because they’ll recognize that working in another country was more rigorous, you gained meaningful skills, and you developed deep cultural understanding along with the skills you gained from working abroad.
Maybe you’ve fantasized about landing an unpaid internship with the UN in Geneva, thinking that afterwards, the band would play, you would look fabulous, and the world of public administration and government would be your oyster. Sadly, there is no guarantee a string quartet and flattering lighting will follow you around. Think a little bigger! There are plenty of paid positions if you just know where to look. Here are some hotspots for public administrator jobs abroad:
Russia. A bridge between the east and the west, Russia offers expats the opportunity to connect with multiple cultures in one place. Moscow has a lively and interesting expat community, but it tends to be kind of a party scene, so be prepared for some “Coyote Ugly” all-nighters (that’s right Tyra, we remember). But it’s mostly work and not play: some programs might place you in work assignments at leading organizations in Russia in the fields of business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, and related areas. You even will get a stipend, insurance, housing, and free language training.
China. It’s no secret that China is a growing superpower in the modern economy and companies are willing to pay a pretty penny for English-speaking westerners to join their teams. Because the government system and customs around doing business are so different in China than in the west, government jobs abroad with American and European organizations exist to help form partnerships in China. Become an expert in Chinese culture and language and you become an invaluable asset to any team the world over.
Ireland. Not in the mood to master a new language? That’s fine, you can totally still find a sweet spot to live and work abroad. Ireland, for example, is English-speaking and has a lot to offer in terms of work in the public sector. Dublin is a popular city for expats and young professionals thanks to its large entrepreneurial network system. Some programs even work in conjunction with the Irish government and helps with visas, job placement, and housing.
Spain. It may be on the geographically small-ish side, but Spain is also diverse in climate, culture, and cuisine. The daily siesta is fading out of fashion, but Spain still has a lot to teach us about work/life balance. It’s a great place to try on new public administration careers and salaries if you want to do more with your life than just your nine to five. There are many meaningful and interesting potential jobs waiting for you in Spain. You might become as excited to go to work as you are to lie on the beach or shake your booty flamenco style at the discoteca. Madrid is a popular hotspot because it’s Spain’s hub for government organizations like the World Tourism Organization (WTO), a United Nations agency.
Government Jobs Abroad
Once you’ve got a degree in public administration, there are many directions your career path could take. You could work in public policy, enter the foreign service, become an education administrator, or work towards being the director of an non-governmental organization (NGO). The main avenues for working in public administration abroad are to find NGO jobs abroad, get hired in a local government agency, or find a position through your home country’s government that is located abroad.
NGO jobs abroad tend to focus heavily on development, public health, and service. In most cases, knowing the local language will be a huge advantage, if not a necessity, like in Russia and Spain, but in China, speaking fluent English may be enough, as most professionals there speak it.
Foreign service positions can include working in consulates or embassies where you can connect with people through international exchanges and learn to bridge gaps of cultural differences. Plus, you’ll develop intercultural understandings and advance your knowledge in relations with other countries. These are some goooooood opportunities for jobs in public administration!
Benefits & Challenges
It ain’t all easy though, there are definitely some challenges to government jobs abroad. Relocating can be stressful and lonely at first, so make sure you have a strong support system established before you venture off to work far from home. Also, many other cultures have different gender norms and expectations around men’s and women’s roles in the workplace. You may also have to get used to some serious late nights and early mornings depending on where you decide to travel. If that sounds absolutely terrible and unsustainable to you, look into a smaller, slower-paced city.
All in all, the benefits of working abroad greatly outweigh the challenges. There’s the huge resume boost it offers along with amazing networking opportunities and an expanded awareness of the field of public administration and government. Every government system is unique, and it is difficult to really understand the nuances without working inside those systems. Your work abroad will give you an inside look into the same agencies and organizations you may be working with down the road.
Most people get into public administration and government work because they want to serve society and make a difference in the world. Working internationally offers you the opportunity to connect with others out there, who have similar intentions, you wouldn’t otherwise meet. Don’t wait to find international jobs in public administration — the future is calling!