How to Become an American Abroad


Working in another hemisphere, on a different continent, or just over the border can be a great way to build business skills and become immersed in another culture. But snagging that overseas position isn’t always the easiest task, says marketing and global supply chain professor Simon Greathead.

To make your journey easier, we asked Greathead and fellow world travelers Kristen Hill and Curtis LaClaire, both Marriott School grads, for their advice on preparing for an international assignment. Hill worked for a year and a half in Paris with Euro Disney, and LaClaire spent two years working in London for Honeywell. Here are their tips:

  1. Learn another language. Greathead recommends learning Spanish or Mandarin, the two tongues with the most speakers in the world.
  2. Build an international network. Hill says she was able to find her position because she reached out to HR directors until she found one who was willing to hire an American. Stay in touch with people you’ve met in other countries, and let them know you want to work abroad.
  3. Choose your company well. LaClaire says working at a large organization that already has an international presence is your best bet to ensure you have the opportunity to nab an overseas position.
  4. Hone your skills. Greathead says most international jobs at large companies require five to ten years of experience. Indicate early that you want to work abroad and ask your supervisor what you need to do to be qualified.
  5. Talk to the expats. Get to know people who have worked in the countries you’re interested in. They can help you know how to prepare culturally for working in another country.

Read more in the Fall 2013 issue of Marriott Alumni Magazine, or check out this post from current expat and BYU MBA alum Wendy Smith.