What an assignment can do for you: the 4 growth dimensions of expats

19 February 2019

Global assignments vary hugely: different people going to different countries for different professional and personal reasons. But while some find it easier than others, expats are fairly unanimous in the fact that the experience makes them richer in more ways than one. So we thought we would ask the question: how can assignments help you grow as a person?

Skills growth: learning new talents

1. Skills growth: learning new talents

Even though you have been chosen for a global assignment based on the skills you will bring to the assignment, you will also be on a steep learning curve. During your time abroad, you are sure to add to your CV and general employability.

Management challenges, for example, can often be very different and your experience of getting the best out of colleagues and teams in different cultures can be valuable. You are also likely to learn about different processes and technologies, which will broaden your experience. Add to this the likelihood of gaining at least some language skills and you will have supplemented your CV nicely by the time you return.

2. Professional growth: the expat aura

Learning new skills is an obvious boost to your future employability – but most expats believe that there is a less tangible dimension to their employability when they return. This is because, while you are working abroad, you are also building your personal brand.

You’re not just you – like it or not, you are now a more international, cosmopolitan version of yourself. An assignment on your CV adds a degree of worldliness and experience that can make you more desirable as a candidate.

3. Social growth: a new independence

Even if they move abroad with their partner or family, expats often find they discover a new level of independence during their assignment. Faced with a series of unfamiliar situations, and without the usual support groups around them, expats simply have to get on with it themselves. Whether it is working out the language, navigating the transport system, dealing with local regulations or simply forming relationships, you have to find your own way to deal with whatever comes your way.

While your new-found independence is essential, another way that you are likely to change your outlook as an expat is in the way you value friendships. Because they are frequently alone (at first) in a strange new environment, expats appreciate the support of those around them – and they learn quickly that they need to offer that support in return.

Call it compassion, call it people skills: either way, expats become more considerate and supportive of others (and more tolerant) on their return. 

Cultural growth: a broader outlook on the world

4. Cultural growth: a broader outlook on the world

Many consider this a hidden benefit of a global assignment. Expats often say that their experiences have given them a more balanced outlook on all aspects of life.

It is difficult to thrive in a new and strange environment without questioning your biases. The expat experience encourages many to re-appraise their attitudes towards life and the world around them.

A desire to seize the day and overcome adversity is a hallmark of the successful expat.

 

Get ready for a new you

Whether it is professional or personal growth, expats agree that you will return home a different person – and you will have grown for the better. One Minnesota couple claimed they learned more in one year in South Korea than in their entire university course!

Approach your time overseas with an open mind and aim to enjoy the experience – and you can only be richer as a result.

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