College Grads: Move Abroad (and Get Paid) With These Programs

We've finally graduated!Graduates near university are throwing up hats in the air.
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If you’re just out of college, or if you’ll be donning a tassel and cap in the near future, you’re probably dealing with more than your fair share of trepidation about what, exactly, you’ll do once you hit the real world.

The answer all depends on which part of the world, exactly, you’re talking about.

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So many new grads anguish over the choice between traveling while they’re young and finally making some money — but who says you have to choose? There are programs designed specifically for students fresh out of college who are looking to earn money overseas. Many provide not only income but free housing, free insurance, free travel and paid vacations.

Are you a recent grad who’s torn between satisfying your wanderlust and satisfying your burning desire to finally leave the broke life behind?

Consider killing two birds with one stone by joining one of these programs.

The JET Program

Year after year, teaching English remains one of the most popular overseas opportunities for recent grads. That’s because it pays well, you don’t have to be an educator — it requires only a bachelor’s degree, in most cases — and you don’t have to speak the language of the students you’re teaching.

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One of the most popular opportunities of its kind, the JET Program chooses about 1,000 or so people each year out of 4,000 to 5,000 applicants to live in villages, cities and towns across Japan as they teach English in both public and private schools.

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TESL/TEFL certification is not required, but it’s certainly an asset during the application process — likewise for having a basic grasp of the Japanese language. Pay starts at about $27,000 and goes up to about $32,000 for those who stay in the program for four to five years.


EPIK stands for English Program in Korea, and the program stands with JET as one of the most popular in America for recent grads who want to teach abroad. Applicants have to have a bachelor’s degree; but, if they graduated with an education-based major, they don’t have to hold a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate. If not, they have to complete at least 100 hours of certificate training.

Pay, which is scaled according to experience and qualifications, runs from about $1,600 to $2,200 per month. There’s also a multitude of bonuses and allowances that add up to thousands more. Furnished housing is part of the package, as are benefits such as paid vacation and insurance.

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OPM Pathways Program

The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) serves as the federal government’s human resources department. To help the government compete with the private sector in attracting the best and brightest grads, President Barack Obama in 2010 signed Executive Order 13562, which created the OPM Pathways program.

The program has three tracks. The Internship Program is for current students and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is for people with advanced degrees. The Recent Graduates Program, however, serves precisely the population that the name implies.

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If you’re interested in working for the federal government and you graduated in the last two years with an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, or even a vocational or technical degree or certificate, OPM Pathways could land you in a paid position overseas.

OPM heads up recruiting for the entire federal government, so many Pathways tracks are domestic, but organizations such as the State Department have lots of opportunities overseas. The program, which lasts for one year, is designed to lead to a full-time career in civil service at home or abroad.

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The Peace Corps

If you’re looking to get rich, the Peace Corps is not for you — but it does pay. Although recent grads are the prototype for this opportunity — which has been a life-defining experience for generations of participants — it’s open to retirees, people changing careers or anyone else who wants to see the world, live in faraway lands and make the world a better place.

More than 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers are serving out their two-year commitments in 60-plus countries around the world.

Volunteers receive free housing and stipends that allow them to live to the standards of the people they serve. There is no fee to apply or join, travel to and from the destination country is covered, and volunteers get two paid vacation days per month.

Medical and dental benefits are included, some volunteers are eligible for student loan deferment or forgiveness, and everyone who completes their period of service receives $10,000 upon leaving the program.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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