August 30, 2010

Turning Middle East Study Abroad into a Career

Everything about the Middle East – the culture, the economy, the controversy – have been hot topics over the past few years, and as a result more and more students have chosen to study abroad in countries like Egypt, Israel, and even parts of Iraq.

And according to a recent New York Times article, this isn’t just to gain a broader understanding of the Middle East, but to leverage the study abroad experience into a career.

Six times as many students are taking a junior abroad to Middle Eastern countries now than they were in 2002, with the number of current students hovering somewhere around 4,000. According to the article, we can directly attribute this rapid growth to the conflict in Iraq, and a desire for students to gain a greater understanding of the conflict that appears to pervade that region of the world.

Those who study abroad are often looking for jobs in the Middle East that continue to engage them in United States foreign-relations. These are a just a few careers abroad in the Middle East that you might leverage from a study abroad experience:

Foreign Service – A career in the foreign service is a lifelong commitment to becoming an ambassador for the U.S. in foreign countries. Generally, new foreign service officers cannot choose their placements geographically, but a good grasp of the culture and language of he Middle East can help to make you a more attractive candidate for a coveted position in the region.

Journalism – Many study abroad students in the Middle East get a crash course in current events by living in a embattled region – this experience can be invaluable to journalists and writers who are looking for new angles on stories and reporting of both conflict and human interest. Using your study abroad semester or year to get acquainted with both local and global media, and maybe even starting your own blog or freelancing for some online markets can help you create a name for yourself, and perhaps open some career doors. This can also include photo journalism jobs, and folks “on the ground” can often get those sought after shots of every day life that many news outlets cannot.

These are just a few ideas for turning  a studying abroad experience into an overseas job in the Middle East. Have you successfully made the transition? Please leave your story in the comments.

Sign up for our newsletter!