This is the beginning of a three-part series  inspired by students’ and recent graduates’ requests for my advice on how to get a job offers abroad immediately after graduation. The series topics are Before You Leave, Visa Advice and Once You’re There, in that order.
Update 12/28/2010: Jessica Lomelin of my blogroll also wrote a post on finding work abroad, specific to her job at Invisible Children in Uganda. You can view the post on her blog here.

Part 1: Before You Leave

Be specific about what you want.
Finding a job abroad will be easier if you are more specific than “I want to work abroad after graduation.” Try to come up with an industry or job title as well as a local language, if not the exact city you want to work in. For example, my goal was “a job in the arts in Beijing.”

It’s all about networking, in a fun way.

Seek out students and professors at your university who are from where you want to work and get to know them. Many universities have a student group for international students, and sometimes they have groups for international students from specific regions or countries. Some universities and cities have a group that arranges language partnerships. At the University of Oregon, this is the Friendship Foundation for International Students. People will usually be flattered you want to work in their home country and want to help you as much as possible.

Your university might also have student groups specifically for Americans who want to work abroad and international students who want to work in the U.S. At the University of Oregon, I recommend the
International Business and Economic Club.

Tell people what you want.
Make sure that as many people in the above groups plus mentors and professors who like you, especially in your major and language classes, know that you want to work abroad and what kind of jobs you want. Last year, I let my major’s department head,
Pat Curtin, know I got an internship in Beijing. The internship ended up falling through, and I didn’t tell many people I got another job in Beijing. The day I graduated, I got an e-mail from a student who knew Pat letting me know a really good job lead in Beijing. This would have never happened had Pat not known I wanted to work there.