When I first moved to New York City for a summer in college, I did it with the welcome support of an internship program that offered dorm housing, career counseling, and a trial-run of the subway!
Coming from Ohio, it was the baby step I needed to jump off successfully into a big city for the initial time.
Similarly, today’s remote programs offer a soft launching pad for millennial professionals to explore work and life abroad.
Intrepid Gen-Yers are opting into programs like Remote Year, Roam.co, The Remote Experience, We Roam, and Remote Way – just a few of the companies that have popped up to address this new global experience-hungry market. [Here is a good comparison of the programs.]
These programs continue to gain in popularity as the more traditional routes of working abroad later in one’s career fail to address the whopping 79% percent of millennials chomping at the bit for international experience now.
For many program participants, a prime perk is not having to deal with the headache inducing international tasks such as: booking flights, finding housing, and securing stable wifi, which are handled by the program.
Yet, don’t be fooled. The learnings for participants are immense, even without the heavy lifting of the logistical details.
Here are 3 Skills Participants Take Home from an Abroad Remote Program
1. Firstly, my conversations with participants reveal that those on nomadic programs do not escape the identity searching and feelings of personal transformation that coincide with life abroad.
Country rotational programs like Remote Year mean constantly delving into new cultures, languages, city geographies, safety precautions, and local nuances.
The emotional whiplash of moving and reintegrating into society every 30 days takes cross-cultural flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity, and inquisitiveness.
Participants have to actively manage a steady yet appropriately fluid sense of self – a critically important deftness to develop in order to successfully work abroad in the future.
2. Secondly, while participants say that the built in community of a programs eases the ongoing adjustment, there are multiple moments when a person faces homesickness, travel fatigue, work issues, and money woes making them wonder “why, oh why, am I doing this?”
Spending significant time with fellow strangers in an occasionally high stress travel environment and living to tell the tale takes emotional self-management, resilience, and relationship skills.
Certainly these are competencies worthy of taking back home.
3. Thirdly, program participants are simultaneously traveling as well as working which yields a bevy of new skills. A few of the programs even make maintaining steady work a mandatory requirement, setting the tone for a professional focus throughout.
Successfully holding down a job or securing contract work while traveling for an extended period takes entrepreneurship, flexibility, and discipline.
One participant told me that the hardest part of working globally and remotely is upholding steady work quality despite the never changing time zones and adjustment required when landing in a different country.
In all, what is clear is that program graduates walk away with not only an array of stories, photos, and new found friends but a serious introduction to the skills it takes to live and work globally.
I have long said that millennials will find their way abroad with or without the support and security of a full time company job.
The creation of these remote programs correlates to the massive request from globally minded millennials for more international experience.
As millennials continue to buck the trend of traditional expat assignments and self-select a path abroad, lucky will be those employers who recognize this pool of self-developing international talent looking for a place to demonstrate their newly honed global skills.