Working abroad for a short period, perhaps a semester, or a full academic year, can often bring significant benefits – both in terms of your career and your personal development. There are other articles on jobs.ac.uk exploring the many advantages of working abroad but, in this article, we will discuss one way that may help you to make this dream become a reality in a remarkably straight forward way… arranging a Job Swap.
Why is this a good idea?
- Your institutions may both benefit from fresh ideas being brought in by a similarly qualified academic, and on your return to your post you will also be able to bring back knowledge of different ways of working.
- It enables you to try out living abroad in a safe way. If you are considering a longer-term move, a job swap will help you to build contacts and to see if the different lifestyle will suit you and, if appropriate, your family.
- You should still receive your current salary while on the job swap – most institutions agree to continue paying each ‘swapper’ as normal.
- Personal career development is a key area that may be enhanced through this experience – time spent working abroad will build on your existing CV and may open doors to new areas of opportunities.
How would I arrange this?
There may not be a recognised programme available and adverts for job swaps are very rare, so a lot of the work might have to be done by you personally. Try the following suggestions to explore your options:
- Do you have existing contacts in institutions abroad? Perhaps co-authors of papers or academics you have met at conferences.
- Does your institution have campuses overseas? This can represent one of the easiest ways to arrange a job swap.
- Are there partner institutions where your students can attend for semesters abroad? Again, existing partnerships can make this easier logistically.
- Do your particular research interests feature at other institutions? If you have a niche specialism, it can be worth exploring where you might best fit. Use your skills to sell yourself!
Once you have identified some key contacts, get in touch to discuss the suggestion of a job swap. If you do find a willing swapper, you will need to agree on the time period this will cover and what support is available from your departments. You will also need a long chat with human resources!
Things to consider
With any move abroad there are many areas you will need to consider…
- Where will you live? Some job swappers swap more than just their job – you may want to consider swapping houses and cars too. There are many factors to consider here, not least insurance, but it can make everything significantly easier for both parties on arrival in a different country to already have accommodation and transport available.
- You are likely to need to look into visas and work permits. If you have a family and they will be going with you, don’t forget to consider if they also need to work or attend school while they are abroad – they may need a different kind of visa. The British Council have a wealth of information available for anyone considering working abroad.
- Will language be an issue for you? If you are swapping to another English-speaking country this may be less of a consideration, but if you intend to swap to a country where you are not a native speaker will this be a problem? You may find lectures and seminars take place in English but department meetings, social opportunities etc, may present more of an issue. Can you take classes before you leave?
While there are many factors to consider, job swapping also presents a real opportunity to dip a toe in the water of working and living abroad while also developing yourself personally. It may be just the boost that your career needs.